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Frederick's ancestry 1 















giLEsiA IS PRUSSIANISED.— Frederick's habits.— diplomatic 
















CAMPAIGN OP 1757 (continued). — ill fortune pursues Frede- 
HOME 152 


CAMPAIGN OP 1757 [continued). — battle of rossbach. — march 




SAXONY.— Frederick's return to Dresden. — marches 



AT MAXEN ♦, 207 














A.D. 928—1686. 

The story of a warrior king like Frederick the Great 
cannot be rightly understood without taking into con- 
sideration the times in which he lived and the events 
which, during a series of ages, combined to place him in 
the position which he occupied at the beginning of his 
reign. And the rise of the Hohenzollern family is 
peculiarly interesting. Springing from obscurity more 
than four centuries and a half ago, it has had vitality 
enough to retain its existence among storms which have 
overthrown many a royal house, and, fixing its roots 
deeper and firmer in the soil of central Europe, to gain 
at last the highest possible European distinction — the 
Imperial Crown of Germany. Judged by the theoretical 
morality of the nineteenth century, the diplomatic subtle- 
ties and the wars of the Hohenzollerns, especially the 
seizure of Silesia by Frederick the Great, may appear 
wanting in honesty and humanity 7j but if we take into 



account the conditions under which society existed before 
nations asserted the right to have the chief voice in their 
own government, it will appear that no family more than 
another had the monopoly of virtue or vice, and that if 
in the stream of history the Hohenzollerns have gradually 
destroyed their early companions on the voyage, it is 
because they were iron pots among earthen pipkins. 

The tendency of modern historians is to reject the old 
hero-worship of kings and to throw the light of their 
researches upon the growth of nations rather than upon 
the genius of rulers, generals, and ministers. No doubt 
there is need of a change from the old method of writing 
history, by which the masters were glorified at the expense 
of the people. But the new process may be carried too 
far. It is possible that, in a not far distant future, the 
progress of trade and manufactures will be pushed by 
co-operative societies of workmen ; but the historians of 
that time will be unjust if they forget the services ren- 
dered in the past by capitalists and inventors. Politically, 
the world is travelling in the direction of constitutional 
government or even republicanism, which are both forms 
of co-operation ; yet the power now known as the Empire 
of Germany was founded and built up by other means, 
prominent among which have been the character and 
actions of various members of the House of Hohenzollern. 
The Electors of Brandenburg raised themselves and their 
family by their own exert ious at a time when Princes 
regarded their countries much as landed proprietors now 
do their estates. Territories with their whole populations 
were bought and sold without consulting other interests 
than those of the proprietors, and a Kaiser was not 
ashamed to wring a post obit for an important district out 
of the necessities of a young hereditary Prince, whose 



father was at the same time bargaining away the rights 
of his son. The people were passed over like cattle to 
the new possessors, and asked for even less than the 
protection given to the beasts on a farm. Thus, while it 
is true that rulers and ministers were the products of 
their time, we may say with equal justice that the people 
were often mere tools in the hands of their sovereign ; 
who used their very aspirations towards heaven as means 
of strengthening his dynasty on earth and adding to his 
worldly possessions. )The bargainings for treaties between 
royal and princely houses resembled the sharp practice of 
a horse fair, and there was even more certainty that the 
agreements would be disavowed if either party saw its 
advantage in repudiating the transaction^ Such being 
the usual conditions, those countries may be esteemed 
fortunate whose proprietors were clever in seizing the 
advantage when it offered, and whose interests were not 
disassociated from those of their masters. 

In the year 928 Brannibor, now Brandenburg, first 
emerged from the chaos of northern heathendom and 
took its place in history. Henry the Fowler marched 
across the frozen bogs, captured Brannibor, and set up 
there a Margrave, or Warden of the Marches, to keep 
order among the barbarous Wends. His business was, 
like that of English and Bussian pro-consuls in Asia, to 
guard the borders of Christendom and save it from inva- 
sion. Under such circumstances there can be but one 
result. The weaker and less civilised nations bring about 
quarrels which end in their subjection. The Margraves, 
however, had many vicissitudes, and the final victory was 
not achieved till two centuries later, when Albert tho 
Bear crushed and half exterminated the Wends with one 
hand, and thrust upon them, with the other, Christianity 

B 2 



and 'colonists from Holland. In consideration of his 
talents and various achievements Albert became a Kur- 
furst (Choosing Prince) or Elector of the Empire, and 
henceforth the Margraves of Brandenburg had the right to 
one voice in the election of Kaisers. This small seed of 
territory and power has gradually grown into the kingdom 
of Prussia, the headship of the German Empire. 

About the time of Albert's death in 1170, or a little 
earlier, began the rise of the Hohenzollern family, which 
had, however, not yet any connection with Brandenburg. 
Conrad, a cadet of the House, left his home in Suabia to 
seek his fortune with the Emperor Barbarossa, and suc- 
ceeded so well that he shortly became Burgrave of 
Nuremburg. His descendants grew in power by the 
same qualities which they have displayed to the present 
day — the qualities mainly of men of business — and were 
ever ready to seize and make the most of the opportunities 
which came under their hands. They acquired larger 
territories, and became in time Margraves of Culmbach, 
which included Anspach and Baireuth. Though not 
Electors of the Empire, their power was such as to give 
them much influence over the choice of Kaisers, and they 
stood well for higher honours. Meanwhile Brandenburg 
had, after a series of troubles, fallen into the hands of 
the Kaisers, who thus became voters for their own elec- 
tion. In 1415 Sigismund, after having pawned Branden- 
burg for small sums more than once, sold it with the 
power which it conferred to Frederick of Hohenzollern 
for 400,000 golden gulden, and henceforth the talents 
which had made the family were devoted to the aggran- 
disement of the northern Principality. 

It was time that a strong hand should take the reins, 
for Brandenburg had fallen into a state of perilous anarchy. 



The towns received Frederick with joy, but the robber 
barons, who lived by highway plunder or black-mail, had 
no stomach for regular government. Persuasion and hos- 
pitality were tried with no effect, but the louder voice of 
cannon — novelties to the barons — especially the balls from 
a heavy twenty-four pounder called Faule Crete, or Lazy 
Peg, brought the walls of the castles to ruin and the barons 
to a better sense of their duties. Brandenburg was saved 
and strengthened, and so prominent were the services of 
Frederick to Germany that he was offered the Kaisership 
in his old age. He declined that crown of thorns, and it 
has been the aim of his family ever since rather to add to 
the power of their own house and country than to grasp 
at imperial greatness. Even in our days it was not by 
his own will that William of Prussia became Emperor of 

From the first acquisition of the Electorate to the 
time of the Great Elector in 1640, near the end of the 
Thirty Years' War, the lives of the Hohenzollern house 
may be passed over in silence, except with regard to 
certain events which bear upon the history of Frederick 
the Great and his father. The family continued to hold 
Culmbach and Brandenburg. The practice was for the 
head of the house to be Elector of Brandenburg, while 
Culmbach, or sometimes Baireuth and Anspach separated, 
were governed by younger branches. This arrangement, 
at first informal, was made definite by the '' Gera 
Bond " in 1598. The bond provided that the younger 
branch should have Culmbach, which might be split into 
Baireuth and Anspach on occasion, but if either branch 
failed the other would take both the Electorship and 
Margraviate until they should be divided again for the 
benefit of the younger scions. On the whole the various 



members of the family were hard-headed, rather grasping 
men, with a keen eye for the main chance, but withal 
good rulers considering the times in which they lived. 

Another important point is the acquisition of Prussia. 
One of the Culmbach line, named Albert, was chosen 
Grand Master of the Teutonic Order of Knighthood, then 
in a state of decay, in 1511. The Teutonic knights had 
taken possession of all East and "West Prussia, and con- 
verted — that is, nearly exterminated — the heathen owners 
of the land. Like the Templars, they acquired much 
property in various directions, became rich, luxurious, 
and degenerate. The King of Poland forced them to 
yield West Prussia and to do homage for East Prussia. 
Albert was elected on the understanding, confirmed by an 
oath, that he would refuse this homage. He endeavoured 
to keep his word, but found that neither the empire nor 
the knights would give him any help at all. After seven 
years, Albert at last got 8,000 troops together to fight 
Poland, but was worsted at once, and made truce for four 
years, during which he besieged the Reich and the Ritters 
with requests for help, if indeed they cared for the point 
they had pressed upon him. His prayers were in vain, 
and with practical sense he consulted Luther, put down 
the order, and made himself Duke of Prussia, for which 
he consented to do homage to the King of Poland, his 
mother's brother. Ripe fruit will fall into the mouth of 
the capable, whether they shake the tree or not. Thus 
Prussia came under the government of the Hohenzollerns, 
and an example of Protestantism was set to' the family. 
The incapable knights disappeared, to be heard of no more, 
and in 1568 the dukedom was made hereditary by consent 
of the Reich, the Brandenburg Hohenzollerns to take it 
if the Culmbach line failed, which it eventually did. Thus 


Prussia was gathered into the possessions of the Northern 
Hohenzollerns, who became Dukes of Prussia as well as 
Electors of Brandenburg. 

The same Elector Joachim II. who obtained the heritor- 
ship of the Dukedom of Prussia made another arrange- 
ment, which, aiming at possible future advantages, was 
in its issue the occasion of the first military adventures of 
Frederick the Great. This was the famous ''Erbverbrii- 
• derung" — Heritage Brotherhood — a covenant with the 
Duke of Liegnitz, by which it was agreed that if either the 
Brandenburg or Liegnitz lines failed, the other line should 
take possession, and combine the two countries, or we may 
say the two properties. The duchy which might thus fall 
to the Hohenzollerns included Liegnitz, Brieg, and Wohlau, 
parts of that Silesia which became so memorable in history. 
The feofs of Brandenburg to be given up did not include 
the whole of it, and need not be mentioned, because, as 
usual, the Hohenzollerns survived the other contracting 
line. The compact was sealed by a double marriage, and 
bound fast by all the red-tape which lawyers could wind 
round it. It is true that Ferdinand, who was then King 
of Bohemia and afterwards Emperor of Germany, objected 
to the arrangement and forced Liegnitz to give up his 
portion of the bond. But what a Hohenzollern grasps he 
keeps if he can, and neither then nor ever afterwards 
could kings or emperors extract that piece of parchment 
out of the strong box of combined Brandenburg and 
Prussia. Probably the question, if argued to-day, might 
make a Chancery suit enduring for many years. Instead 
of a suit, the Silesian succession became a burning question, 
and for arguments Frederick the Great substituted the 
sword. There was another Silesian claim on the part of 
the Hohenzollerns, with which, however, we need not 



now concern ourselves. The Erbverbriiderung, and its 
rejection by the Kaiser when it should have been fulfilled, 
was a pretty quarrel enough. 

One more important circumstance remains to be noticed, 
as upon it turned much of the action of the Hohenzollerns 
when they came to be kings. Albert Frederick, the first 
hereditary duke by consent, married Maria Eleanora, 
daughter of Duke William of Cleve, who was the brother 
of Anne of Cleves, known in history as the rejected of- 
Harry VIII. of England. Duke William settled Cleve, 
which included Julich and Berg, on Maria and her de- 
scendants, male or female, in case he should die without 
male issue. Only if Maria died childless was Cleve to 
pass to her sisters. Duke William left no heir, while 
Maria had daughters, one of whom married an Elector of 
Brandenburg. The settlement had been confirmed by the 
Kaiser and seemed all in order, but at Maria's death in 
1608, the succession was claimed by the Count Palatine 
of Neuberg, who had married a younger sister of Maria 
Eleanora. Forthwith other claimants started up, and it 
was not till long afterwards that the matter was settled 
by a division between Neuberg and Brandenburg, with 
the proviso that if either line failed in male issue the 
other was to take the whole. The Hohenzollerns were 
rich in children, but the line of the Neubergs was visibly 
failing in the boyhood of Frederick the Great — we shall 
presently see with what result to him and to the whole 
of Europe. 

One Hohenzollern, and one only, during the whole of 
the electoral period deserves nothing but blame at 
the hands of historians : and he lived precisely at the 
time when a man of good parts might have done great 
things. This was George William, who existed, we cannot 



say flourished, in the time of the Thirty Years' War. His 
sole endeavour appears to have been to keep himself out 
of danger ; and the result was, as happens on continents 
in such cases, that his country became, in great part, the 
battlefield of Europe. Considering his opportunities, he 
might have placed himself at the head of the Protestants 
and changed the whole character of the war. But instead 
of this, he tried to shake hands with the Kaiser on one 
side and the League of Protestant chiefs on the other. 
Even if he may be forgiven for hesitating at first, there 
came a time when his duty and his interests were so clearly 
at one that none but a weak ruler could possibly have 
doubted. The greatest captain of the age) Gustavus 
Adolphus, landed in the island of Usedom in 1630, seized 
Pomeraniajand cleared it of the Kaiser's army, which had 
been occupying it in defiance of all George William's 
claims. The degenerate Hohenzollern was not to be moved ; 
and when, at last, he was absolutely driven by circum- 
stances to join the side of Gustavus, he sent a poor 3,000 
men into Bohemia, who did no single worthy action and 
soon vanished. The result to himself of this weakness was 
a miserable and shame-faced life, while his country was 
almost turned into a desert by the armies which fought on 
its soil. In the latter part of the war the contending 
forces strove to starve each other by wasting the districts 
where they fought. The misery was greater than can be 
conceived. There was not a peasant who could count his 
life safe from day to day ; and in some places famine 
reached such terrible dimensions that men hungered for 
human flesh — fathers and mothers ate their own children. 
Such was the result of [George William's policy of peace at 
any pricejjand besides bringing about this misery among 
the people,^e lost Pomerania^hich had fallen in to him, 



but was occupied by the Swedes ; and lost the duchy of 
Jiigerndorf in Silesia^^hat province being seized by the 
Kaiser and his generals unrighteously, and, as it turned 
out afterwards, unfortunately for Austria. 

It is impossible to say how low the HohenzoUerns in 
1640 might have fallen had not George William been suc- 
ceeded by his son Frederick William, the Great Elector some 
eight years before the close of the Thirty Years' War. He 
was only twenty years old at the time of his succession, but 
had watched the disgrace of his country with eager mind 
longing to retrieve it. As a political factor in Europe, 
Brandenburg had disappeared. Its actual ruler had been 
the minister Schwarzenberg, the paid agent of the Kaiser* 
a Catholic directing Protestant actions in the midst of a 
religious war. The Great Elector governed for forty-eight 
years, during which he restored his country, made it richer 
than it had ever been, got rid of Schwarzenberg from the 
Cabinet, and the Swedes from a large part of Pomerania, 
rearranged the whole system of taxation, and brought much 
waste land into a fertile condition. At the same time he 
began to form a standing army. His subjects, like the 
Prussians before 1866, objected to the military measures 
of their ruler, but were pacified and pleased by the honour 
gained in many fights, all undertaken in the cause of Pro- 
testantism and German freedom. Philosophers may teach 
and mercantile pursuits may hamper the sword arm of a 
nation, but there has never yet been found in the history of 
the world a living people insensible to military glory, 
r The Great Elector, like smaller men, grew old and weary 
of struggles. For all his good work he had neither got 
Pomerania from the Swedes nor Silesia from the Kaisef/1 
who would listen to no solicitations on this head. Bu6"^in 
1685, when the Great Elector was sixty-five years old, the 



Kaiser had need of his help against the Turks, and made a 
proposal that the Silesian claims should be settled by giving 
him the **' Circle of Schwiebus " — a tract of country lying 
close to the Elector's dominions north-west of Silesia. 
While negotiations were in progress, Baron Freytag, the 
Austrian Ambassador at Berlin, secretly entered upon 
another bargain. The young Prince Frederick, son and 
heir of the Elector, had quarrelled with his stepmother and 
run away from Court, believing himself in danger of poison 
His father permitted him to live apart, but tightened the 
strings of the purse, and gave him hardly enough to exist 
upon. The wily Freytag crept into the presence of the young 
man, and told him that all his wants should be supplied if he 
would give a post obit for Schwiebus, which his father was 
in the act of acquiring. Thus, with one hand the Kaiser, 
holding Silesia by force, traded with the father to exchange 
his rights over it for a paltry province, and with the other 
lent money to the son at usurer's interest, no less than the 
resignation of his future claims on Schwiebus. Both the 
old and the young man fell into the snare, and the Austrian 
rights to Silesia became based upon a transaction which 
was shameful to the Austrian Court and galling to the 
pride of the coming HohenzoUerns. The double transaction 
was closed in 1686, and two years afterwards the Elector 
died. When Frederick succeeded him, he at first refused to 
give up Schwiebus, and even held possession of it for seven 
years. He declared that he had been swindled while an 
ignorant youth, and asserted that when he signed the post 
obit he had no power to bind Brandenburg. Only on the 
threat of actual force did he consent to yield Schwiebus to 
the Emperor, against the advice of his counsellors. His 
answer to them is recorded in history. He must keep his 



own word, but, having been thus abused, he retained his 
claim to Silesia, and left it for his posterity to prosecute 
when the opportunity should come. Perhaps if the Kaiser 
had known what manner of man was to prosecute this 
claim hereafter, he might have hesitated to leave a wound 
to the Hohenzollern spirit so imperfectly closed. 




A.D. 1712—1740. 


Though the great elector did not succeed in obtaining 
the territory he sought, he left his people so enriched, and 
his standing army so strong, that no potentate in Europe 
could make war without questioning himself what would be 
said and done at Berlin. His son Frederick, though of 
weaker mould, was strong in the possession of the power 
built up by his father. Once more the Kaiser wanted help 
for his war of the Spanish Succession, and got it from 
Frederick, but only after paying well for it. Frederick 
demanded and obtained, not without suspicion of bribery 
at the time, the title of King of Prussia. The Hohen- 
zollerns had sped well in their climb upwards. From a 
wandering fortune-hunter to Burgraves of Nuremburg, 
Electors of Brandenburg, Dukes of Prussia, and now at 
last Kings — of Prussia, because that state did not form part 
of the German Reich. The new king was a lover of 
magnificence and ceremonials, for which historians have 
blamed him. But there were no achievements ready to his 



hand beyond good administration, which he faithfully gave ; 
and the people seem to have been content with his coro- 
nations and his progresses. His queen, Sophia Charlotte, 
was so little elated by the new dignity, that in the midst of 
the ceremony of coronation she was discovered conveying 
to her nose a sly pinch of snuff in fine irony of the pro- 
ceedings. She has been called the Republican Queen, and 
a touch of her nature is to be seen afterwards in her 
grandson, Frederick the Great. Her discourses with 
Leibnitz on *' The Infinitely Little," of which she writes, 
" Mon Dieu, as if I did not know enough of that ! " seem" 
to foreshadow the philosophic speculations of the great 
king, and his passion for talk with Voltaire and the 
like, while her contempt for the forms of courts passed 
downwards for at least two generations. 

\ The accession of the next king, Frederick William, 
marks a turning-point in the history of Prussia, j Dis- 
gusted with the pomp and display of his father, he set 
himself at once to cut down expenditure in every depart- 
ment except in that of the army. In his childhood he had 
shown clear proofs of the direction given to his mind by his 
mother's blood and influence. Once there was brought to 
him a grand embroidered dressing-gown, heavy with gold, 
but no sooner had the boy examined it than he made up 
his mind to have none of such useless and uncomfortable 
finery, and without more ado put it in the fire. When his 
father lay dying in 1713, the poor mortal frame heaving 
its last sighs amid a forest of gold sticks and other para- 
phernalia of a court, and in an air thick with powder from 
periwigs, the young man made up his mind. Death came, 
and the natural grief of Frederick William was driven 
in by the chilling ceremonies and antic homage of the 



courtiers. He dashed the tears from his eyes, went straight 
to his room, and sent in less than half an hour for the 
Ober-Hofmarschall. To him he signified his will that 
though things might go on as they were till his father's 
funeral, when he would allow himself to be bedizened 
for the last time in foolish trappings, the waste and the 
absurdity must cease from that moment, and the whole 
apparatus disappear, to be succeeded by the simplicity of an 
English country gentleman. Right through the list of all 
expenditure did Frederick William go in like manner, 
discharging and reducing until his court was the cheapest 
in Europe— perhaps more suitable for a petty noble than a 
great king. Instead of an army of gold sticks, silver 
sticks, and the rest, he would only have eight lackeys at 
six shillings a week, and three pages. For a thousand 
saddle-horses, many of them imaginary quadrupeds, the 
money for whose food went into idle men's pockets, 
Frederick William would have only thirty, which he kept 
in good condition with right hard work. His pension-list 
was reduced from 276,000 thalers to 55,000. These are 
but samples of the work done throughout the whole of his 
dominions. The dreams of socialists were realised by this 
heavy-handed king, to whom it seemed an abominable 
offence that any man should eat bread without working 
hard for it. His reforms were real and valuable, but, as 
he grew older, his tendency towards parsimony and the 
personal management of his people grew into a mania, 
which brought at last much unhappiness to himself and 
his family. __ 

But with all his economy in court and country, Frederick 
William never spared the money required for his army, 
which he increased from 38,000 at his father's death to 


84,000 in his own time. Nor were these 84,000 men 
mere show soldiers ; they were trained with a constant 
supervision and severity of discipline which, though pro- 
bably never since equalled, have left their traces on the 
Prussian army of to-day. No other country in Europe has 
ever succeeded in arriving at the reality of such discipline, 
though with ape-like fidelity some of them have imitated 
the Prussian manias, forgetting that the laws of disci- 
pline must, like any other laws, be adapted to the 
circumstances of time and place ; and that one race of 
men will bear with equanimity punishments which would 
drive freer people to distraction and perhaps mutiny. 
Blows of the stick administered on the spot are no doubt, 
like the birch-rod in schools, short, sharp, and effective 
punishments for those who will endure them without losing 
soldierly pride and self-esteem. No one objected to them 
in the north and east of Europe at that time. Nor, in 
spite of regulations and assertions to the contrary, have 
they entirely disappeared to this day. To the French and 
English armies such personal chastisement has long been 
mere torture. 

^Frederick William's love of the stick was not confined 
to the treatment of soldiers alone. He used to carry a 
rattan with him in his walks, and woe to the unhappy 
wight who seemed to be doing evil or even idling. Nay, 
in his palace the stick was active, and no one dare resist 
him. Servants, pages, and even lady visitors were chastised 
in this remarkable manner. In fact, Frederick William 
set himself deliberately to thrash his kingdom, hjs house- 
hold, and his .family into obedience and good order/ Now 
if we remember how strong used to be the tendency of 
schoolmasters only a few years ago to flog their boys 




instead of leading them, and if we consider for a moment 
that the King of Prussia had constituted himself a school- 
master on a large scale, with no public opinion to criticise 
or control him, the apparent madness of his conduct as he 
grew older will but appear to be the natural development 
of the spirit of discipline in a direction where it must 
ever go if once acknowledged as of more importance than 
individual liberty properly trained and directed. 

In like manner his determination to increase and perfect 
he army became a mania with him. /' He did what he 
undertook, and did it well. The infantry of the young 
Prussian monarchy became the first in Europe, and, by its 
excellence, carried Frederick the Great through his first 
campaign, the success of which was certainly not due to 
any military genius on his part. Frederick William's 
mania for big, well set-up soldiers, led him to commit 
certain follies, which, however, had at the bottom of them 
a root of common sense. He had agents throughout the 
whole of Eurc^e cajoling or kidnapping the tallest men that 
could be found to swell the ranks of his regiment of giant 
guards at Potsdam. All Europe rang with the scandalous 
transactions of these agents. Priests were dragged from the 
altar, and monks from the convent. One fine man, the 
Abbe Bastiani, was kidnapped in the very act of celebrating 
mass in an Italian church. The monk, who is known as 
the Great Joseph, was given the sum of 5,000 florins for 
his own enlistment, besides a large sum to the monastery. 
So far as is known, Ireland had the credit of producing 
the recruit who extracted the greatest amount of money 
from Frederick William's pocket. The man himself, James 
Kirkland, received £1,000, which represented much more 
value than it would at present, and the rest of the expenses 
of securing him and bringing him over to Berlin amounted 




to £200 IO5. Od. In the bill occur some curious items. 

For instance : — 

£ s. d. 

For the sending of two spies 18 18 

To some of his acquaintance in London who helped to per- 
suade him 18 18 

To two soldiers of the guard (query English or Irish) who 

assisted 15 15 

To some persons for secrecy ... 12 12 

To a man who accompanied and watched him constantly ... 3 3 

On one occasion the Austrian ambassador, Herr von 
Bentenrieder, a tall and handsome diplomatist, was tra- 
velling as an envoy to or from the Congress of Cambray. 
Near Halberstadt his carriage broke down, and he walked 
on while it was mending. Arrived at a small guard house 
he found a Prussian officer, who forthwith seized him as a 
promising recruit for the Potsdam giants. Rich merchants 
and burgomasters were actually carried off, and could 
hardly, if ever, get their freedom again. A thousand 
curious stories are told of this spider king whose web 
extended over the whole of Europe to catch every hu nan 
fly who happened to be of greater stature than his fellows. 
Nay, more, Frederick William not only caught his peculiar 
pets, but bred from them also. He used to catch gigantic 
girls when he could, and marry them to his tall grenadiers. 
Take this story as a sample of his transactions in matri- 
monial management. Going one day from Potsdam to 
Berlin, he saw coming towards him in the opposite direction 
a magnificent girl, young, handsome, and of good figure, 
superb in number of inches. He was at once struck with 
admiration for her; stopped to talk, and found that she 
was unmarried, and was on her way from Berlin to her 
Saxon home. " Then," said Frederick William, " you will 
be passing the gate of Potsdam, and will no doubt give 


24th Jan. 1712. 

this note to the commandant, receiving a dollar for your 
trouble." But women, even when tall, are not so easily 
outwitted as Kirklands, Josephs, and the like. The girl 
knew the king by sight and reputation, and knowing that 
to refuse the note would probably bring her a shower of 
blows from the rattan, accepted the commission. Arrived 
near the gate of Potsdam, she found there a little wizened 
old hag, to whom she intrusted the delivery of the letter, 
honestly handing over the dollar with it. Then forthwith 
she sped away towards home. The commandant opened 
the note, and found himself ordered to marry the bearer 
to a certain gigantic Irish grenadier named Macdoll 
(?McDowall). He rubbed his eyes, but there could be 
no doubt about the clearness of the command. The 
grenadier was sent for, and then began a curious scene. 
The man was in absolute despair. Such a mate for one 
of his thews and sinews seemed a horrible mockery. The 
proposed wife, on the contrary, was quite ready to submit 
herself to the orders of the king. There was no escape ; 
to refuse further would be flat mutiny, and the soldier was 
actually obliged to obey. The mistake was not discovered 
till the next morning, when Frederick, finding himself 
thwarted in his designs for the development of giants in 
Germany, consented to the divorce of the ill-matched 

To this strange historical figure of good intention but 
vastly exaggerated performance, and to his wife, Sophie 
Dorothee of Hanover, waswjorn on the 24th of January, 
1712,"" a boy, who was christened Karl Frederick, and is 
know:^ in history as Friedrich II. of Prussia, or, more 
commonly, Frederick the Great. The father was still 
Crown Prince, and twenty-four years old, a rugged, hard- 
tempered soldier, who had seen fierce fighting under 

c 2 



Marlborough and Eugene during the Netherlands episode 
of the War of Succession. The child was the fourth-born. 
Two princes had preceded him, but died in infancy ; the 
first it is said, having fallen a victim to ceremony in the 
shape of a crown which compressed his soft skull ; the 
second frightened to death by the firing of the cannon which 
announced his arrival in a world of display. Between 
these two baby princes came the princess, Frederika Sophie 
Wilhelmina, Frederick's dear companion in childhood and 
friend in after life. After Frederick came ten other 
children, two of whom died in infancy. The survivors of 
the family to manhood and womanhood were — 

Frederika Sophie Wilhelmina, born 3rd July, 1709. 
Frederick the Great, „ 24th January, 1712. 

Frederika Louisa, ,, 28th .September, 1714. 

PhiUipina Charlotte, „ 13th March, 1716. 

Sophie Dorothee Maria, ,, 25th January, 1719. 

Louisa Ulrique, „ 24th July, 1720. 

August Wilhelm, „ 9th August, 1722. 

Aunna Amelia, „ 9th November, 1723. 

Friedrich Heinrich Ludwig „ 18th January, 1726. 
August Ferdinand, „ 23rd May, 1730. 

Altogether a family of ten surviving out of fourteen born. 

The young Frederick was a boy of great vivacity, but 
inclined to be delicate, and it is not easy to understand how 
he escaped with life under the treatment of his hard father, 
whose more than Spartan discipline — beer soup for food, 
and scanty allowance of sleep — would have killed any young 
thing which had not a more than ordinary amount of 
vitality. Perhaps one element in his training saved him — 
the strictest regularity in meals, studies, and exercise. He 
was first under charge of a French Protestant governess, 
Madame de Poucoulles, for whom he retained ever after- 
wards a lively affection. In his seventh year he was placed 



in the hands of tutors, men of real experience of life, and 
his father laid down for his benefit a system of instruction 
which was adhered to with more or less accuracy. First of 
all, he was to be impressed with a proper love and fear of 
God, no false religions or heresies being so much as named 
in his hearing. To this day, the basis of all Prussian 
schooling is "God and the king." Reference was to be 
made to Papistry alone, but only to point out to him its 
baselessness and absurdity ( Ungrund und Ahsurditat). Latin 
was strictly forbidden, no time for antique learning in the 
scheme of the Bear of Berlin. Economy to be studied " to 
the very bottom," arithmetic, mathematics, artillery, 
modern history thoroughly ; but little ancient ; the jus 
naturale and jus gentium, the latter a new study in those 
days, to be completely known. With increase of years he 
was to become versed in fortification and all the details of 
the military art, and have "stamped into him" a true 
love for soldiership, so that he might be fully persuaded 
that " as there is nothing in the world which can bring a 
prince renown and honour like the sword, so he would be 
a despised creature before all men if he did not love it and 
seek his sole glory therein." This is the main thought of 
the father, who considered himself cheated out of Silesia, 
and whose father had solemnly declared that he left to his 
successors the task of prosecuting the claim. A little 
later, when the young prince was in his tenth year, the 
king drew up a long memorandum, apportioning rigorously 
the tasks and duties for every hour of the week. Carlyle 
gives us from Preuss the general features of the scheme, 
which shall be quoted here, as it serves better than much 
description to show what Frederick's mental training was. 

Sunday. — " On Sunday he is to rise at 7 ; and as soon as 
he has got his slippers on, shall kneel down at his bedside, and 


pray to God, so as all in the room may hear it " (that there be no 
deception or short measure palmed upon us) " in these words : 
' Lord God, blessed Father, I thank Thee from my heart that 
Thou hast so graciously preserved me through this night. Fit 
me for what Thy holy will is ; and grant that I do nothing this 
day, nor all the days of my life, which can divide me from Thee. 
For the Lord Jesus my Redeemer's sake. Amen.' After which 
the Lord's Prayer, Then rapidly and vigorously (geschwinde und 
hurtig) wash himself clean, dress, and powder and comb himself ; 
we forget to say that while they are combing and queuing him, 
he breakfasts, with brevity, on tea. Prayer, with washing, break- 
fast and the rest, to be done pointedly within fifteen minutes — 
that is, at a quarter-past 7. 

"This finished, all his Domestics and Duhan shall come in, 
and do family worship {das grosse Gebet zu halten). Prayer on 
their knees, Duhan withal to read a chapter of the Bible, and 
sing some proper Psalm or Hymn " (as practised in well-regulated 
families), " It will then be a quarter to 8. All the Domestics 
then withdraw again ; and Duhan now reads with my Son the 
Gospel of the Sunday ; expounds it a little, adducing the main 
points of Christianity ; — questioning from Noltenius's Catechism " 
(which Fritz knows by heart) : — " it will then be 9 o'clock. 

" At 9 he brings my Son down to me ; who goes to Church, 
and dines along witli me " (dinner at the stroke of noon) : " the 
rest of the day is then his own " (Fritz's and Duhan's). '• At 
half-past 9 in the evening, he shall come and bid me good-night. 
Shall then directly go to his room ; very rapidly (sehr geschwind) 
get off his clothes, wash his hands " (get into some tiny dressing- 
gown or cassaquin, no doubt) ; " and as soon as that is done, 
Duhan makes a prayer on his knees, and sings a hymn ; all the 
Servants being again there. Instantly after which, my Son shall 
get into bed ; shall be in bed at half-past 10 " ; — and fall asleep 
how soon, your Majesty ! This is very strict work. 

Monday. — " On Monday as on all weekdays, he is to be called 
at 6 ; and so soon as called he is to rise ; you are to stand to him 
(anhalten) that he do not loiter or turn in bed, but briskly and at 
once get up ; and say his prayers, the same as on Sunday morning. 
This done, he shall as rapidly as possible get on his shoes and 
spatterdashes ; also wash his face and hands, but not with soap. 



Farther sliall put on Ms cassaquin" (short dressing-gown), "have 
his hair combed out and queued, but not powdered. While getting 
combed and queued, he shall at the same time take breakfast of 
tea, so that both jobs go on at once, and all this shall be ended 
before half-past 6." Then enter Duhan and the Domestics, with 
worship, Bible, Hymn, all as on Sunday ; this is done by 7, 
and the Servants go again. 

" From 7 till 9 Duhan takes him on History ; at 9 comes 
Noltenius " (a sublime clerical gentleman from Berlin) " with the 
Christian Religion, till a quarter to 11. Then Fritz rapidly 
{geschwind) washes his face with water, hands with soap and 
water ; clean shirt ; powders, and puts on his coat ; — about 11 
comes to the King. Stays with the King till 2," — perhaps 
promenading a little ; dining always at noon ; after which 
Majesty is apt to be slumbrous, and light amusements are 

" Directly at 2, he goes back to his room. Duhan is there 
ready ; takes him upon the maps and geography, from 2 to 3, 
giving account " (gradually !) " of all the European Kingdoms ; 
their strength and weakness ; size, riches and poverty of their 
towns. From 3 to 4, Duhan treats of morality {soil die Moral 
tradiren). From 4 to 5, Puhan shall write German letters with 
him, and see that he gets a good 'stylum' " (which he never in the 
least did). " About 5, Fritz shall wash his hands, and go to the 
King ; — ride out ; divert himself in the air and not in his room ; 
and do what he likes, if it is not against God." 

There then is a Sunday, and there is one weekday ; which 
latter may serve for all the other five ; though they are strictly 
specified in the royal monograph, and every hour of them marked 
out. How, and at what points of time, besides this of History, of 
Morality, and Writing in German, of Maps and Geography and 
the strength and weakness of Kingdoms, you are to take up 
Arithmetic more than once ; Writing of French Letters, so as to 
acquire a good stylum : in what nook you may intercalate " a 
little getting by heart of something, in order to strengthen the 
memory " ; how instead of Noltenius, Panzendorf (another sublime 
reverend gentleman from Berlin, who comes out express) gives 
the clerical drill on Tuesday morning ; with which two onslaughts, 
of an hour-and-half each, the clerical gentlemen seem to withdraw 



for the week, and we hear no more of them till Monday and 
Tuesday come round again. 

On Wednesday we are happy to observe a liberal slice of 
holiday come in. At half-past 9, having done his History, and 
" got something by heart to strengthen the memory " (very little, 
it is to be feared), " Fritz shall rapidly dress himself and come to 
the King. And the rest of the day belongs to little Fritz {gehort 
vor FritzcJien)." On Saturday, too, there is some fair chance of 

" Saturday forenoon till half-past 10 come History, Writing, 
and Ciphering ; especially repetition of what was done through 
the week, and in morality as well" (adds the rapid Majesty), "to 
see whether he has profited. And General Graf von Finkenstein, 
with Colonel von Kalkstein, shall be present during this. If 
Fritz has profited, the afternoon shall be his own. If he has not 
profited, he shall, from 2 to 6, repeat and learn rightly what he 
has forgotten on the past days." And so the labouring week 
winds itself up. Here, however, is one general rule which cannot 
be too much impressed upon you, with which we conclude : 

" In undressing and dressing, you must accustom him to get 
out of, and into, his clothes as fast as is humanly possible {hurtig 
so viel als menschenmoglich ist). You will also look that he learn 
to put on and put off his clothes himself, without help from 
others ; and that he be clean and neat, and not so dirty {nicht so 
schmutzig). Not so dirty, that is my last word, and here is my 
sign manual, 

"Frederick Wilhelm." 

But with all the training, military and otherwise, the 
young prince could not be forced into an early love of 
soldiering. A miniature soldier company of boys was 
formed from the sons of noble families, to enable him to 
learn his exercises while he was still a child, but he was 
indifferent to the joys of drill. Neither could he be induced 
to take pleasure in the shooting parties and boar hunts in 
which he accompanied his father. The warrior king of 
the future would slip away and hold musical concerts in 
the woods with some of his young companions, or join his 



mother and her ladies when they were present at the 
hunts. Music and philosophy, with the society of the 
queen and his sister Wilhelmina, were more delightful 
to him than the parade-ground or the sports in the field. 
Even Latin was studied by him in secret, probably because 
his father had attempted to deprive him of a liberal 
education. Once the king caught him and one of the 
minor tutors at work on Latin, having before them 
among other books the Aurea Bulla, or Golden Bull of 
Kaiser Karl IV. The trembling preceptor assured the 
king that he was only explaining the Golden Bull to 
his pupil. Up rose the rattan in the air over the tutor's 
head, as his master roared, " Bog, I will Golden Bull 
you ! " The young Frederick was inclined to foppishness, 
combed his long hair in the French fashion of the day, like 
a cockatoo, till his father ordered it to be cropped and pig- 
tailed, and stood by while the operation was performed. In 
short, the father was harsh and unsympathetic ; the son 
inclined to contradiction. The king acted like a gross 
sergeant-major even in mental exercises; the prince re- 
torted by aiming at becoming a fop and a speculative 
philosopher. The elder tried to break his family in by 
starvation and the cane ; the family, queen, Wilhelmina, 
and the young Fritz worked to get their own way by 
deceiving the tyrant. 

Wilhelmina, in her Memoire, tells some strange stories 
of this and later times, and they are valuable as showing 
the influences brought to bear on her brother. In 1717, 
when the girl was eight years old, and the boy five, Peter 
the Great passed through Berlin, on his way from France 
to Bussia. The Czarina Catherine was attended by a bevy 
of women, many of whom carried babies in their arms. 
When asked if the children were theirs, each one replied, 


1717 1730. 

" The Czar m^afaitVhonneur de me /aire cet-enfant.^^ When 
a German official waited on the Russian majesty to present 
a complimentary address, the czar stood to receive it be- 
tween two of these curious creatures, with his arms round 
their necks. Even worse things than these are related of 
his morality, tales which would be incredible but for the 
consent of numerous witnesses. Wilhelmina and her 
brother knew of all. And as a pendant to the brutality 
of the czar, we have the miserish order of Frederick 
William, who allowed the authorities on the line of the 
Russian progress, only 6,000 thalers for expenses, but 
ordered them to declare that it had cost the king thirty 
or forty thousand. Truly a strange court for the training 
of a boy. 

Under these conditions of life, it is not wonderful that as 
the young Frederick grew in years and stature, his dislike 
to his father and the training which that father gave him 
steadily increased. The breach between them widened, and 
every taste of the king was outraged by opposite desires and 
actions on the part of the prince. In those days force was 
the only remedy for every difficulty which could not be over- 
come by craft, and parents followed the advice of Solomon 
in the treatment of their children, if in naught else. A king 
who drove his subjects with the stick was not likely to 
treat his family with gentleness; and the scenes in the 
palace, as told by Wilhelmina and others, show that the self 
will of Frederick William was exaggerated to the extent 
of madness. On one occasion he attempted to strangle his 
son with the cord of a curtain, and the mother and her 
children existed in daily terror of their lives. Young 
Frederick fell into a state of mental depression, and 
sought relief from the misery he endured in scenes 
of dissipation and debauchery. The V3ry elements of 



morality were at this time almost unknown in courts. 
Public opinion had no power ; the will of the sovereign 
over-rode all laws, human and divine. One scene related by 
Wilhelmina may serve to show the strange possibilities 
which existed. When Frederick was sixteen years old he 
accompanied his father to Saxony, then governed by August 
the Strong, who was also King of Poland. King August 
followed the example of Solomon in one respect, though 
perhaps one only. He had by his concubines no less 
than three hundred and fifty-four children, who had no 
means of knowing that they owed their birth to the same 
father. With him Frederick William feasted and drank 
heavily. The episode which follows must be given in the 
words of Wilhelmina's Memoires. Its truth is confirmed 
by other writers. 

One evening, when they had well sacrificed to Bacchus, the 
King of Poland conducted the king (Frederick William) into a 
room very richly ornamented, the furniture and arrangements of 
which were in exquisite taste. The king, charmed with what he 
saw, paused to look round him, when, suddenly, a curtain was 
drawn up and displayed to him a most extraordinary sight — a 
young girl in the condition of our first parents lying negligently 
on a bed. She was ij^ore beautiful than Venus and the Graces are 
painted, and displayed to view a form of ivory, whiter than snow 
and shaped more beautifully than the Venus de Medici at 
Florence. The cabinet which contained this treasure was lighted 
by so many wax candles that their brilliancy was dazzling, and 
gave additional splendour to the beauties of the goddess. The 
authors of this comedy were in hopes that the object would make 
an impression on the king's heart, but it turned out quite other_ 
wise. No sooner had he cast eyes on this beauty, than he turned 
sharply round with indignation ; and seeing my brother behind 
him pushed him roughly out of the room, and at once followed 
him in great anger at the scene he had witnessed. He spoke of 
it the same evening to Grumkow in strong terms, and declared 



that, if the like happened again, he would leave Dresden imme- 
diately. With my brother the result was different. In spite of 
the king's care he had a full view of the Cabinet Venus, and the 
eight of her did not inspire in him so much horror as in his 

In short, the Prince " obtained her from the King of 
Poland in a manner curious enough." Yes, curious enough ! 
The bargain was that young Frederick should resign a 
pursuit, in which he was engaged, of the Countess Or- 
zelska, one of the three hundred and fifty four, who had 
already been mistress to Count Rutofski, another of the 
same band, and was now receiving the warm attentions of 
August himself. If at this time the morals of young 
Frederick were loose, his father's friends set him a bad 

The authors of Frederick's temptation at the Saxon 
court were Grumkow, prime minister of Prussia, and 
Count Seckendorf, secretly envoy of the kaiser, and 
ostensibly Frederick William's friend and adviser. It was 
but one of their schemes for breaking off a project of a 
double marriage with the English royal family, concerning 
which there had been long negotiations. Frederick was to 
marry the Princess Amelia of Englandi^ and Wilhelmina, 
the Duke of Gloucester, afterwards known as Frederick, 
Prince of Wales. For political reasons it did not please 
the Kaiser that Prussia should draw close to the sea 
powers, and Seckendorf was the instrument selected, not 
only to spoil this match, but to make a tool of the Prussian 
monarch. Seckendorf visited Berlin, pretending a mission 
to Denmark on urgent business for the Kaiser, too press- 
ing even to brook the delay of presentation to the king. 
Frederick William, looking out of the window of his 
tobacco-parliament room, with Grumkow at his elbow, 



saw Seckendorf crossing the parade. Rapid presentation 
ensued, and invitation to remain for a while. Seckendorf 
was coy, and a promise could hardly be drawn from him 
that he would return after his visit to Denmark. Within 
a few days he was at Potsdam again, and, thenceforth, 
attended the King of Prussia, like an evil genius, separat- 
. ing Frederick William from his natural Protestant allies, 
and fomenting discord between him and his family. The 
smoking room where the king used to sit and booze with 
his boon companions, holding rough " parliament " there, 
did him this evil turn. From it he first espied the man, 
>who more than any other, brought misery to the royal 
house of Prussia. 

From the time of Seckendorf s appearance, the palace 
witnessed strange and sad scenes. The royal children, 
oppressed, ill-treated and threatened, did what lay in them 
to deceive their hard father, and snatch by stealth the 
natural pleasures which he denied to them. We do not 
hear that young Fritz actually neglected his military 
duties (he was now a major in the regiment of giants), 
but they were, at least, distasteful to him, and his own 
favourite pursuits — music and speculative philosophy — 
were to his father as the red rag to a bull. Add to this 
the daily struggles between the queen, who never ceased to 
strive for the double marriage, with Seckendorf who fought 
against it, and a growing irritability in the king, aggra- 
vated by fits of gout ; and the result becomes a Prince's 
Progress which must clearly end in catastrophe of some sort. 
*' God grant he do not end on the gallows," said Frederick 
William once to the serpent Grumkow. Meanwhile their 
father supplied them with food hardly eatable, and Spat 
in the dish to prevent their having enough. The king, 
pushed by Seckendorf, had come to hate the English, and 


' 15th July 1730. 

Dubourgay relates that when Fritz once said in his father's 
presence that he respected the English because he knew 
that they loved him, Frederick William seized him by the 
collar and struck him fiercely with his cane. In a letter to 
his mother, Fritz speaks of a " shower of cruel blows " on 
this occasion, says that he is in the uttermost despair, and 
resolved to put an end to it in one way or another. The 
double marriage project came to the ground with a crash 
when the king, in a fit of passion, dashed down a docu- 
ment presented to him by the English envoy, shouting, 
"Messieurs, j'ai eu assez de ces choses la," and young 
Frederick began to lay plans for escape by flight from a 
life, the misery of which had become unendurable. It was 
about this -period, in 1730, that the father attempted to 
strangle his son with the cord of a curtain, and not with- 
out reason did the Prince say that he feared for his life. 
He was asked to resign his position of heir apparent, but 
answered firmly " No ! unless your majesty is prepared to 
deny the honour of my mother." 

Two of Frederick's familiars. Lieutenant Katte, and 
Keith, a page of the court, were made confidants of his 
intentions, and helped to devise plans of escape. They 
were unwise counsellors, careless and loose in their conduct, 
but withal devoted to Fritz, who indeed sorely lacked sup- 
port and sympathy from those who were older, and ought 
to have been wiser. More than once Frederick formed 
plans of escape, but they came to nothing, and on the 15th of 
July, 1730, he set Qut with his father on a journey through 
the Reich. His -designs were suspected, and he was placed 
in charge of three oflicials. Seckendorf joined the party, 
which proceeded as far as Augsburg without any incident 
worth relating, then turned homewards by another way 
intending to strike the Rhine at Mayence. Frederick was 


4th Ang. 1730. 

determined to escape during this journey, and foolishly 
corresponded with Katte who remained at Berlin, Keith 
travelling with the royal party. The place fixed for the 
elopement was Sinzheim, where Keith was to procure post 
horses, and ride with Frederick to Speyer, crossing the 
Rhine there, and going on to Paris. Unfortunately for 
the prince's designs, a sudden decision was taken to spend 
the night at the village of Steinfurth, some five or six 
miles short of Sinzheim. In the gray of the dawn, the 4th 
of August, 1730, Frederick rose and left the barn where he 
had slept in company with his guardian trio, went out and 
found Keith ready with two horses. But before Frederick 
could mount, his watchers were called by vigilant servants," 
and the project of flight was baffled. The same day an 
intercepted letter of the prince's to Katte was brought to 
Frederick William, and Keith confessed the plot. The 
king was furious, and charged the guardians on their lives 
to bring his son " living or dead " to Berlin. As soon as 
the Rhine was reached, Frederick was placed, a prisoner, 
on board a royal yacht. At Wesel he was brought on shore, 
and had a terrible interview with the king, who drew sword 
upon him, and would have thrust him through but for the 
interference of the commandant, old General Mosel. They 
were parted, and did not look on each other's faces again 
for more than a year. Keith escaped, and his evasion 
quickened the king's wrath against his son. Katte was 
arrested at Berlin. 

Courts of inquiry were held, the king insisting upon it 
that Frederick was a deserter from the army. The rage of 
the king knew no bounds. Every familiar friend of the 
prince came under the royal fierce anger, which vented 
itself in the very madness of cruelty. A Frenchman, 
Count Montholieu, was nailed to the gallows in effigy, after 



flight, for having lent the prince money. Doris E-itter, an 
honest girl, with whom Frederick had practised music, was 
whipped through the streets by the beadle, and clapped in 
prison for three years. Finally a court-martial was assem, 
bled to try the prince, and the associates of his attempted 
flight. Grumkow was a member. They condemned 
Frederick to death, two members dissenting ; Keith, who 
had escaped, to be nailed to the gallows in effigy ; and 
Katte, who had only been cognisant of the flight, to per- 
petual imprisonment in a fortress. This one morsel of 
mercy was denied by the king, who ordered that Katte 
should be beheaded, saying that " it is better that he should 
die than that justice should depart out of the world." 
Forthwith the king's counsellors, including even Seckendorf , 
implored mercy for the prince. The Kaiser and foreign 
courts interposed to stay the hand of the madman, and 
Frederick William at last consented to a milder punish- 
ment. But Katte at least must die, and die, ordered 
Frederick, before the eyes of his son. Some writers say 
that this devilish sentence was actually carried out ; others, 
that by the connivance of attendants, the prince was only 
forced to see his friend on his way to the block. Certain 
it is, that Frederick saw Katte pass his window close by, 
and implored his pardon. " Death is sweet for so lovable 
a prince," replied the unhappy youth. Nature was more 
merciful than the king. Frederick fainted, and saw his 
friend no more. 

When Frederick awoke to life and captivity, Miiller, the 
chaplain of the gens d'armes, was with him, and c^ered 
cooling drinks, which the unhappy prince refused, suspect- 
ing poison, till Miiller swallowed a portion, when the poor 
lad drank with avidity. Muller's business was to wean 
him from what his father considered as Calvinistic heresy. 



It is evident that at this time the burning soul of Frederick 
was struggling for spiritual light. But for such purpose 
there should be liberty to think freely, not the compulsion 
of prison walls. Miiller, on receiving back a Concordance 
which he had lent to the prince, found sketched on the 
fly-leaf the figure of a man on his knees, with two swords 
hanging crossed over his head. Below were written the 
words of the Psalmist : " Whom have I in heaven but Thee, 
and there is none upon earth that I desire besides Thee. 
My flesh and my heart fainteth and faileth; but God is 
the strength of my heart and my portion for ever." 
Miiller had also to deliver to Frederick, Katte's last words 
of advice to him, that he should submit to his father. 
Submission soon came. What with the nervous shock he 
had received on seeing Katte led out to die, and the ghostly 
ministrations of the chaplain, perhaps also the absence of 
his father's irritating ways, the will of the youth yielded. 
He took and signed an oath of submission on the 19th 
of November, Katte having died on the 6th. Frederick 
William prayed that **his godless heart may be beaten 
till it is softened and changed, and so he be snatched from 
the claws of Satan." Thus the imagination of men con- 
ceives a god like themselves, and the Bear of Berlin places 
a rattan in the hands of Omnipotence. 

Frederick was released from confinement, but placed 
under surveillance, and not allowed to leave Ciistrin without 
permission. He was deprived of military uniform, put 
into a pike-grey frock, with narrow silver cord for orna- 
ment, and made a member of the Board for Managing 
Domain Lands, there to learn practically the economics 
which had been instilled into him theoretically as a boy. 
His further treatment was to depend on his diligence 
and good behaviour. Meanwhile Wilhelmina was almost 



20th Nov. 1731— 12th June 1733. 

starved. " Soup of salt and water, and ragout of old bones 
full of hairs and slopperies," thus she describes the food 
grudgingly dealt out to her. The French Protestant colony 
in Berlin, hearing of her case, left baskets of eatables for 
her and her governess in out-of-the-way places where they 
could be picked up. At last the tide began to turn. There 
was talk of marriage for her with the Margrave of Baireuth, 
then betrothal, a visit of the king to his son, who fell at 
his feet and kissed the royal shoes ; the marriage of Wil- 
helmina on the 20th of November, 1731, and on the 23rd 
her much -loved brother returned to her. But not the old 
brother of her love. A changed, cold man, with a touch 
of the father's critical ways, and, worst of all to the 
feminine mind, with reasons for what he did. His reasons 
were good. Next day he appeared once more in uniform 
on parade with his regiment, of which he was made colonel 
commandant in February of the following year. One slight 
struggle more he had against betrothal to the Princess of 
Brunswick Bevern, a lady whose qualities were opposed to 
all he had dreamed of in a wife ; but he submitted to what 
he called his hard fate, was betrothed on the 10th of March, 
1732, and married on the 12th of June, 1733. It was far 
from being a love match, and there were no children. The 
pair can hardly be said to have lived together at all, and 
the princess need not be mentioned again, as she exercised 
no influence over the events of Frederick's life. 

About six months before the marriage, and during the 
time of betrothal, Frederick "William was startled by a 
proposal from the Kaiser, through Seckendorf, to throw 
away his plighted word, get rid also, it appears, of Wilhel- 
mina's husband, and bring about the double marriage with 
England after all. The king was struck to the heart by 
this proof that the emperor, to whom he had been devotedly 



loyal all his life, should tempt him to do what he considered 
as the act of a scoundrel. Throughout his reign the influ- 
ence of Austria had been promised to him in securing the 
succession to Berg and Jiilich,^ and this was the main lever 
of Seckendorf to move the power of Prussia. But, with 
the absolute faithlessness which was the tone of courts in 
that day, the Kaiser had promised his influence for the 
same succession to two other different candidates, and this 
seemed to dawn upon Frederick William when, after some 
negotiation through Grumkow, Seckendorf actually spoke 
to the king. Seckendorf s words are not known, nor the 
exact nature of the shock which he administered to 
Frederick William ; enough that it uprooted his faith in 
the Kaiser and his own self-esteem. Speaking of it after- 
wards he said, " It was as if you had turned a dagger 
about in my heart. That man was he that killed me. 
Then and there I got my death." He spoke of it often in 
years to come, and would say, with tears running down his 
cheeks in grief and rage, " Da steht einer der mich rachen 
wird." ** There stands one (Fritz) who will avenge me." 
So the legacy to Austria was growing. The first king 
says, '* My rights on Silesia I leave intact for my posterity 
to prosecute." The second, "There stands one who will 
avenge me." 

In 1734 Frederick accompanied, as a volunteer, his 
father's contingent of 10,000 men to the Kaiser's cam- 
paign on the Bhine. Prince Eugene was in command of 
the Beich's army. But time had dimmed the brightness of 
the old general's faculty for war, and there was no fighting 
worthy of attention. The young prince showed uncommon 
coolness, riding at a foot's pace between the two armies 
under a hot fire, and conversing tranquilly with the 
^ See chap. i. p. 8. 

D 2 



generals who accompanied him. This is to be remem- 
bered when we come to remark his conduct on a later 
occasion. A light is thrown on his opinions of the inces- 
sant machine-like drill of the Prussian army by a letter of 
his to Lieutenant Groben, written on the 17th of August, 
wherein he says : — " The drill-demon has now got into the 
Kaiser's people too ; Prince Eugene has grown heavier 
with his drill than we ourselves. He is often three hours at 
it, and the Kaiser's people curse us for the saipe." Yet these 
'* Kaiser's people " were *' left seven days without bread/' 
and generally were seen to want many things more than 
drill. At this time his father fell ill, nearly to death, and 
Frederick saw close to him the liberty and power he 
desired. The old king recovered, but was never himself 
again. In the years of weakness which followed he was 
often represented by his son, whom he began to recognise 
as a worthy successor, while that son learnt to appreciate 
the finer qualities in the rough taskmaster who had trained 
him with so stern a hand. This period was marked by 
increasing coldness between Frederick William and the 
Kaiser, by a correspondence of Fritz with Voltaire, and 
the writing by the prince of a book called the Anti- 
Macchiavel, a work intended as a refutation of Macchiavelli's 
Prince, and full of advanced ideas and noble thoughts as to 
the duties of a king, who, wrote Frederick, should practise 
truth and be " the born servant of his people." He meant 
what he said at the time, but who could be faithful to such 
an ideal amid the lying, corruption, and chicanery which 
was the daily life of European courts at that era ? More 
than one of them supplied money for Frederick's necessities, 
hoping by that means to bind him in golden chains. 

As the king found himself gradually failing he drew 
closer to his son, and many acts of human kindness passed 



between them. The shadow of the coming fate began to 
creep over the broken man, and softened the rugged out- 
lines of his character. He had put faith in the goodwill of 
the Kaiser, and found himself betrayed in the matter of 
Jiilich and Berg. He had thought his son a reprobate, 
and that son was growing all that he could desire. There 
were strange bear-like hugs between them, not altogether 
without scratches. In April, 1740, Fritz entered the 
tobacco parliament when his father was there. The party, 
contrary to rule, rose on seeing him, in homage to the 
rising sun. Frederick "William was so offended that he 
had his chair wheeled out at once, exclaiming, *' You shall 
know that I am not yet dead." It was long before ♦he 
would forgive the courtiers. In May he was disputing 
with his chaplain as to the light in which some phases of 
his life would be regarded by the Great Judge before 
whom he had no doubt that he would soon appear. One 
point in his favour he clung to ; he had never been an 
unfaithful husband. On the 26th of May he sent for his 
son, and at sight of him held out his arms. Fritz knelt, 
and the strange pair wept in each other's arms. The 
same day the dying king dictated exact instructions for 
his funeral, ordering that the volleys over his grave should 
be fired with attention to accuracy of time. His coffin he 
had long had ready in the palace, made exactly according to 
his instructions. When they were singing a German hymn 
to him which contained the well-known words, ''Naked 
came I into the world and naked shall I go," he said, " No, 
not quite naked ; I shall have my uniform on." He picked 
out good horses as gifts to his friends, saw a last parade 
from his window, abdicated in favour of his son, inspected 
his servants in their new liveries, faintly saying, " O 
vanity ! O vanity ! " regarded his face in a mirror to see 


31st May 1740. 

how it looked in the agonies of death, and spoke for his 
last words, " Lord Jesus, to Thee I live ; Lord Jesus, to 
Thee I die ; in life and death Thou art my gain/' He died 
on the 31st of May, 1740, and the destinies of Prussia were 
henceforth confided to the hands of his son, who,- next 
morning, broke into a passion of tears on seeing a regiment 
swearing fealty to him ; and seven years after concluded 
a history of Frederick William in these words : ** We have 
left under silence the domestic chagrins of this great 
prince : readers must have some indulgence for the faults 
of the children in consideration of the virtues of such a 



18th century. 

The eighteenth century has been said, on one hand, to 
have no history, and, on the other, to be the father of 
modern history. "Whatever truth there may be in either 
of these phrases it is certain that the period was one of 
transition not only in the power of states, but in the 
political ideas of mankind. The eighteenth century began 
with the dynastic war of the Spanish Succession, it ended 
with the French Revolution and the birth of those republi- 
can institutions which have since modified profoundly the 
thoughts and actions of civilised men even in countries 
which still remain monarchical. In its opening years courts 
and aristocracy were powerful and corrupt to a degree now 
almost incredible. In old established monarchies such as 
France and Spain, the contempt of the rich and high born 
for the poor, who but lived to minister to their pleasures, 
had already begotten a savage desire for resistance to daily 
oppression. The working classes were dogs to their 
masters, but dogs no longer licking the hands which 
threw occasional scraps to them. Luxury in the upper 
classes and the growing hatred of the pdor, had sapped 
the strength of nations formerly all-powerful. 


18th Centmy. 
But tli& decay was imperceptible at the beginning of the 
century, especially in France — the worst offender and most 
dangerous mine of explosive materials in Europe. France 
was apparently rising as a monarchy, and by means of the 
very cynicism which afterwards led to the destruction of 
the royal house. In the Thirty Years' War, while Europe 
was being torn by religious struggles, the last that have 
occurred ; Richelieu had strengthened the army in order to 
assert the supremacy of the Bourbon over the Hapsburg 
dynasty. While persecuting the Huguenots at home 
he prepared to support the Protestants abroad. His 
ambition was to cut off Spain from the Netherlands, and 
the Kaiser from the northern states of Europe. He had 
succeeded in both endeavours. The Bhine, both at its 
source and mouth, was wrested from the hands of the 
Hapsburgs. The United Provinces and Switzerland were 
declared legally independent ; and France, fairly seated in 
the towns and fortresses guarding the course of the river, 
had become little less than the arbiter of Europe. War 
followed war, the religious question dropping more and more 
out of sight, and the idea of " the balance of power " rising 
in its stead. Each court was struggling for its own advan- 
tage, and the intrigues which took place round the sick 
couch of Old Spain were no grander, though their scale was 
larger, than those of grasping relatives round the death 
bed of a childless millionaire. No one of the intriguers 
gave a single thought for the slaughter which must take 
place, or dreamt of consulting the wishes of the people 
who would have to die for the furtherance or opponence of 
schemes concerning which they were absolutely ignorant. 
Treaties might be called " felonious " or " highway robbery " 
in the English House of Commons, but there was not a 
crowned head in Europe into whose brain the idea of 


18th Century. 

justice entered for a moment. Within and without the 
borders of their kingdoms justice only meant the assertion 
of their will by the strong. 

It is also remarkable that a wild spirit of gambling had 
taken possession of society from top to bottom. Mississippi 
schemes and South Sea bubbles were but one expression 
of a recklessness which was universal. If common men 
gambled in shares, monarchs habitually staked with light 
hearts their en^)ires on the chances of war. And this they 
did regardless of the social cancers, luxury, vice, misery, 
which were eating the hearts of nations. While Louis 
XIY. was spending vast sums on his wars, his mistresses, 
and his fortifications, Yauban ^ estimated that every tenth 
man in ^France was an actual mendicant, five-tenths did not 
absolutely beg, but were on the verge of starvation ; three- 
tenths were ill at ease, embarrassed with debts and law 
suits ; and even of the remaining tenth — the army, the 
bar, and the clergy, the high noblesse, the distinguished 
noblesse, the officials, the good tradesmen and burghers 
having property, perhaps a hundred thousand families in 
all — not more than one-tenth were really in easy circum- 
stances. This was the estimate of the great engineer 
whose business it was to design the fortresses which have 
descended to our day. The desolation of France was so 
great that wolves came down out of the hills of Auvergne 
and ravaged the valley of the Loire. Other countries 
were equally afflicted, nor was there any hope of justice or 
mercy for the pbor. The success of suits was obtained by 
bribing the mistresses of royal personages, and great 
ministers had to begin every diplomatic attempt at a 
foreign court by obtaining in one way or another the 

^ Dixme Royale. 


18th Century. 

favour of the class least capable of appreciating the real 
condition of the people. 

Yet, in this strange condition of afEairs, France was 
the rising nation, both Austria and Spain receding before 
her. Alsace, Lorraine, the Rhine fortresses, were hers, and 
when Frederick came to the throne her army was the 
largest and had the greatest reputation in Europe. At 
that time commerce had revived under the hand of Fleury, 
and her East India Company was growing rapidly, though 
the people were no better fed or happier for it. All 
incoming riches went to swell the expenditure and feed the 
luxury of the court and its small charmed circle. In 1739 
D'Argenson^ wrote that "in time of peace, with all 
appearance of an average, if not an abundant crop, men 
are dying round us as thick as flies ; they are wretched, 
eating grass." And in another place he says : " More 
Frenchmen have died of misery in these two years than 
were killed in all the wars of Louis XIV." The French 
court was more ambitious of dictating to the rest of Europe 
than of saving the lives of the people. 

Austria was even weaker. Equally poor from the results 
of her late wars, she had not even an army. Her forces at 
home had almost disappeared ; she was still in terror of 
Turkey, and all her neighbours awaited the first oppor- 
tunity to cut slices from her. The Kaiser spent his life in 
getting signatures to a piece of parchment which would 
give a theoretical title to his daughter, instead of filling 
his treasury and preserving his army as* Prince Eugene 
advised him. 

England was comparatively rich, and her people had 
already won their liberties. A sea power by necessity, she 

^ Memoirs du Marquis d'Argenson, 


18th Century. 

was vaguely yearning for the command of the ocean, and 
in that pursuit saw as her rivals France and Spain, but 
chiefly Spain. Commerce and colonies were the direction 
of her natural development, and the passion aroused by 
the famous episode of Jenkins's ear, was a natural out- 
burst of the desire which could not be gratified so long as 
Spain had the virtual monopoly of the Western trade. But 
her new royal house had hung Hanover round her neck, and 
caused an unfounded and unnatural jealousy of the rising 
Prussia. The struggle with Spain at sea was unceasing, 
though it only took declared shape in 1739. England may 
therefore be said to have been divided between her natural 
instincts on the Spanish Main and her artificial interests in 
' Germany, which led her at first to look with disfavour upon 
Prussia. Her natural allies were the Dutch and Prussia, 
her artificial the nations with which she at first acted. 

Thus, then, France was strong in military power, with a 
cancer consuming her vitals ; Spain, much weakened, and 
coming into natural collision with England ; Austria, weak 
in her army, and in dissension with Hungary; Italy, a 
^ battle-field for all the powers ; Russia making her first 
steps out of barbarism ; England growing at sea and rich, 
but almost destitute of an army ; Prussia poor, but strong 
in her army and in the frugality and discipline impressed 
upon her by the House of Hohenzollern. But her strength 
was not appreciated by other powers; the eccentricities 
of Frederick William had obscured his higher qualities, 
and no one in Europe knew what was to come out of the 
stormy youth of the young Frederick. 

The armies of Europe were organised very differently 
from those of our own time. The soldiers were generally 
recruited for an indefinite period, and might serve for the 
whole of their vigorous life, or be dismissed to their 


18th Century. 

homes if the kings did not require their services. The 
fire-arm of the infantry was a smooth-bore musket, which 
carried only about two hundred yards, and with very little 
accuracy, wliile much time was required to load it. In the 
time of Frederick William, Prince Leopold of Anhalt- 
Dessau, who was as thorough a drill sergeant as the king 
himself, introduced the iron ramrod, which quickened the 
loading ; but it is a mistake to attribute the successes of 
Frederick the Great to this very trifling development. No 
division or brigade organisation existed, nor was there any 
tactical unit between the whole army, or such a part of it 
as might be broken off for particular purposes, and the 
battalion of infantry or regiment of cavalry. Artillery 
was very backward, both in material and organisation. 
The universal practice was to attach two guns, three 
pounders or six-pounders, to a battalion of infantry, and 
there remained besides an indefinite number of pieces, 
sometimes of heavier calibre, which acted directly under 
the orders of the commander-in-chief of the army. In 
many cases there were no artillerymen at all with the 
battalion guns, and in the heat of the fight the guns were 
commonly forgotten by the commander of the battalion, 
falling as a rule into the hands of the victors. 

The general characteristic of armies so organised was 
extreme slowness of motion and heaviness of manoeuvre. 
The gi'eat victories of Marlborough could not have been 
won in the manner they were but for what we should now 
consider a strange supineness on the part of the enemy. 
"Wlun a position was once taken up, generally after many 
hours spent in marches and deployments, the commander 
of the force was loth to attempt any movement on the field 
/of battle which might throw his troops into confusion. An 
army deployed was usually in two lines, each three deep. 


'sth Century, 

To move to a flank, the whole force was thrown into column, 
and, seeing that the fight was carried on at very close 
quarters, it was almost impossible to execute such a 
manoeuvre after the battle was engaged. That general 
who, like Marlborough, had the courage to attack, and the 
military insight to discover the weak point of the enemy, 
might indeed, as at Blenheim, cease his unavailing efforts 
at one point, move his troops away, and direct them against 
a weaker spot in the enemy's formation ; or he might, as 
at Ramillies, neglect one part of his adversary's line alto- 
gether if it could not advance, and throw his whole force 
against another part. But in such a case success depended 
upon considerable want of insight on the part of the enemy, 
and was not attained by any special rapidity of manoeuvre 
on the field of battle. 

It is evident that all movements made in the lumbering 
manner characteristic of that day depended for their execu- 
tion on the greatest mechanical precision and steadiness of 
drill ; for, if an enemy . moving to a flank lost or gained \ 
ever so little distance between the companies or battalions^ ^ 
the wheel into line afterwards performed to face the enemy 
again would present either a huddled crowd or a line torn 
into tatters. Here, then, we see the very serious advantage 
possessed by the Prussian army as handed down by 
Frederick William to his son. The king was himself the 
great drill sergeant of Europe, and his efforts had been 
seconded by Prince Leopold, who was equally exact and 
persevering, while his original faculty was greater. Nor 
must it be supposed that the training of the Prussian army 
consisted in barrack-square drills alone ; on the contrary, 
there had already been instituted the practice of those field 
operations which, under the title of autumn manoeuvres, 
have since become a regular military institution in every 


18th Century. 

European army. "When the Prussian troops first found 
themselves in presence of an enemy on the field of battle, 
there was nothing novel to them in the spectacle. They 
had been accustomed to face a supposed enemy in their 
mimic campaigns. The habit of attacking and defending 
under various circumstances had already been formed, 
and death itself had few terrors for men whose whole life 
was for the most part a succession of miseries and petty 
tyrannies — for the hand of military discipline was terribly 
heavy, and there was no refuge in the law against the 
oppression of the hardest of military taskmasters. A cam- 
paign, with all its privations, was little harder than the 
daily lot of the Prussian soldier in garrison at home, and 
actual war brought him at least excitement, praise, and 
even rewards in money. He probably lived better on the 
spoils of an enemy's country than on his usual rations; 
and the interest of the march and the combat was a 
pleasant alleviation to the fearful monotony of constant 
drill. We shall see that, in the course of the Seven Years 
"War, the old Prussian infantry became almost extinguished, 
but by that time the genius of Frederick the Great had 
given him so great a moral ascendancy, and he knew so 
well how to handle the material which he possessed, that 
up to the very last he continued to win battles when all 
the odds were against him. By a happy combination of 
wiliness and audacity he deceived his enemy, and attacked 
him at a disadvantage. 








Ko authentic portraits of Frederick as king exist any- 
where. Pesne, a French refugee, and an artist of consider- 
able power, painted him twice — as a Child beating a drum, 
with Wilhelmina looking on, and as Crown Prince. From 
these and other sources it is known that he was below the 
middle height, rather handsome, with oval, aquiline face, 
and blue-grey eyes of extraordinary brilliancy and vivacity 
— eyes that spoke the thoughts of the vivid brain behind 
them, and could terrify or enchant as the mood of the 
young king might turn. Without doubt his mind was full 
of schemes for the improvement of his people and their 
preparatibn for higher destinies. In many respects he 
anticipated the progress in civil and religious liberty which 
has since become the common property of civilised man- 
kind. Indeed there are, even now, portions of Europe 
where religious freedom, however professedly guaranteed, 
is not so real as that of the Prussians under Frederick. 
Less than a month after his father's death the Department 


June 1740. 

of Religious Affairs sought his decision on the question 
what was to be done in the case of the Roman Catholic 
schools for soldiers' children of that faith, which had been 
abusing their privileges, and turning themselves into 
centres of proselytism. The answer rings true in that age 
of religious prejudice : ** All religions must be tolerated, 
and the fiscal must watch {das Auge darauf haben) that 
none of them shall do injury to the others ; for here every 
one shall be saved (Selig werden) in his own way." The 
press also was practically set free, and Frederick instituted 
a Literary and Political Newspaper for the instruction of 
the people. He abolished legal torture, with which he had 
himself been threatened during the days which followed 
his attempt to escape, and made plans for the establish- 
ment, or rather development, of the Academy of Sciences 
on a grand scale. All these reforms were commenced in 
the first week of his reign, and were efforts to carry out 
the principle which he announced on the second day, " Our 
great care will be to further the country's well-being, and 
to make every one of our subjects contented and happy." 
There had been famine in the land before his father's 
death, but the old king had hesitated to open the state 
corn magazines lest he should be cheated. Frederick the 
Second opened them at once for the benefit of the poor, and 
established houses wherein a thousand poor old women 
were comfortably fed and clad ; but, with characteristic 
economy, he set them to spin. Like Henry V. of England, 
whom he resembled in many points, Frederick turned 
away from the companions of his looser pleasures, and 
to one who tried to be familiar and jocose, said, " I am 
now king." On the other hand, he sent for all the young 
men whom he had observed to be steady and capable, and 
induced them to enter his service. This was the nearest 


AugTTst 1740. 

approach which he made to his father's enlistment of 
giants. Frederick William sought for masses of flesh; 
Frederick the Great for massive brains and clear intellects. 
The one recruited big men by force, the other, bright men 
by persuasion and benefits. To his mother he gave love, 
respect, and comfort. He created a new and charming 
title for her ; she was not to be the Queen Dowager, but 
** Her Majesty the Queen Mother," and he never failed to 
visit her every day when he was at Berlin, nor spoke to 
her without hat in hand. He put an end to the shabby 
style of court so dear to his parsimonious father, and main- 
tained a moderate number of court functionaries. The 
ridiculous giants were abolished as soldiers, some of them 
pensioned, others turned into doorkeepers and the like. 
Their places were filled by new regiments of well-trained 
soldiers, and he increased the army by about 16,000 men, 
so that it now mustered 100,000 — a grand unit in the 
forces of Europe. 

One trifling incident there was of the nature of an 
escapade on Frederick's part before the wild leaven was set 
to work entirely on the soldier's craft. In August he set 
out on a journey to Cleves, visiting his sister at Baireuth 
on his way. Wilhelmina found him changed, somewhat 
stilted and stiff, the kingly robes not yet sitting easily 
upon him. From Baireuth, instead of going to Cleves, 
he struck southward to Strasburg, and slipped incognito 
into France as Count Dufour. He hoped even to visit 
Paris in this easy fashion, but, being recognised as King of 
Prussia at Strasburg, gave up the idea, and turned back 
within forty-eight hours. He caught the philosopher, 
Maupertuis, at Wesel, and had a visit — longed for during 
many years — from Voltaire himself, at the castle of 
Mayland near Cleves. As Yoltaire went in at the gate, 



he met Councillor Rambonet on his way out, and Lis 
mission is the first use of high-handed power which is 
knowli of the master of 100,000 soldiers. Herstal, a 
small place, which with other heritages had fallen in to 
Frederick William, had refused to own his sway. The 
Bishop of Liege claimed it, and resisted Frederick 
William's recruiting parties there. The old king offered 
, to sell it to the bishop, but could arrive at no definite 
settlement, and let it alone. A week before Voltaire's 
arrival, Rambonet had paid one visit to the bishop, 
requiring within two days a distinct answer to the 
question whether he still intended to abet the rebellious 
people of Herstal. Still no definite answer could be 
obtained, and Rambonet had now to deliver to the bishop 
Frederick's promise of punishment. General Borck was 
sent with 2,000 men to occupy part of the bishop's proper 
territory, and lie there at his expense till the prelate 
should come to a better frame of mind. He occupied 
Maaseyk, and exacted a contribution of 20,000 thalers 
besides living at free charges — the requisition system not 
unknown to the German army in this century. The bishop 
applied to the Kaiser, who ordered Frederick to withdraw 
his forces ; but not having 100,000 men ready to march 
against Prussia, took no steps to enforce the decree. 
Neither French nor Dutch were in better case to help, 
and the bishop was at last fain to compromise the dispute 
by paying 240,000 thalers for Herstal, instead of the 
100,000 for which he might have had it from Frederick 
William. The young king retired to Reinsberg, there to 
spend some time in rest and relaxation. But the Kaiser's 
interference, unbacked by force, had added one drop more 
to the cup of bitterness which the HohenzoUerns had held 
to their lips for many years, and Frederick was soon to 


20tb Oct.-6th Dec. 1740. 

dash it to the ground. On the 20th of October, 1740, about 
a fortnight after the date of the demand that Frederick 
should leave the bishop's territory. Kaiser Karl VI. died, 
and his daughter, Maria Theresa, was proclaimed inheritress 
of his power, wheresoever it had extended. 

Now, if ever, the painful efforts made by the late Kaiser 
must bear fruit in a general recognition of the Pragmatic 
Sanction. Couriers sped forth to announce the news in all 
the embassies of Europe, and to the electors of the Reich 
who had to choose the new Emperor of Germany. Sharply 
back from Bavaria, the nearest court, came the reply. It 
was a protest against the Pragmatic Sanction, and the 
right of Maria Theresa to a great part of the titles and 
power which she had assumed. Nay more, Bavaria was 
prepared to make good the claims of its prince to Bohemia 
and even part of Austria. France was known to be 
covertly or openly a natural foe to Austria, and endeavour- 
ing to supplant her in various quarters. She was actually 
ready to back the Bavarian claims.^ The Saxon and other 
electors were certainly not warm lovers of the late imperial 
court. The Czarina of Bussia, who might have helped 
Austria, died opportunely a few days after the Kaiser. 
Frederick had now to take his part, and he seems not to 
have hesitated for an instant. He decided that, for the 
time at any rate, his chances in a war were good ; that, 
later, either France or England must be on his side, and 
that now or never must he discharge the legacies bequeathed 
by his predecessors, and take possession of Silesia. His 
ministers arrived at Beinsberg, but found that his resolu- 
tion was already taken, and that their advice must be 

* For an interesting, though one-sided, picture of these various acts 
of treachery, see the Due de Broglies book, Frederic II. et Marie 

£ 2 


20th Oct.-6th Dec. 1740. 

limited to the " how " and the " when," for the " whether " 
was as fixed as if action had already been taken. It was 
clear to his mind that the old political system had expired 
with the Kaiser, and that they who would hold a good 
place in the new must bestir themselves. He was for 
taking Silesia at once, openly, with the strong hand in 
assertion of his rights ; but his ministers advised him to 
leave an opening for agreement with Maria Theresa by 
declaring only that he was about to' take charge of Silesia 
and keep it for the rightful owner. A flimsy pretext this, 
but worthy of the diplomacy of the eighteenth century. 
A.11 the world knew that the Hohenzollerns claimed Silesia, 
and for whom else were they likely to hold it % Clearly, 
Frederick put no trust in this shabby device, for he first 
veiled his intentions in impenetrable silence, and when tho 
moment came for movement declared openly that he was 
going to war. Though international law was then estab- 
lished and codified in learned volumes, it had not yet made 
much impression on the minds of the many, nor was 
there, except to some extent in England, a public opinion 
capable of resisting the desire of monarchs for more 
territory and military glory. Even in England the 
apocryphal story of Jenkins's ears and other fictitious 
tales had been sufficient to create a war with Spain. With- 
out asserting that Frederick was morally right— for who 
can ever be right in making war lightly 1 — it may be fairly 
said that he acted in consonance with the spirit of his time, 
and had as much justice on his side then as could be urged 
in favour of some wars in our own generation. Granted 
that he let slip the dogs of war on Europe, it is none the 
less true that they were straining at the leash, and it was 
only a question of time when the frail restraint should be 
worn through. 


«th-13th Dec. 1740. 

The intentions of Frederick were unknown, though it 
soon began to be evident that military preparations were 
on foot. Wily diplomatists sought to penetrate the veil. 
Even Voltaire under literary pretexts went to Berlin, was 
received graciously, and took part in a series of gaieties, 
but failed to discover the secret. At last on the 6th of 
December it was announced to the foreign ambassadors 
at Berlin that the king was about to move a body of troops 
into Silesia, the pretext being that sketched by his ministers 
at Reinsberg. On the morning of the 13th, after a ball at 
the palace, Frederick stepped into a carriage and started 
for Frankfurt on the Oder, having a day or two before 
addressed his generals in a short speech commencing with 
these words: — "Gentlemen, I am undertaking a war in 
which I have no allies but your valour and goodwill." 

He had already sent to Yienna an offer ^ to accept a 
part of Silesia in settlement of his claims, but had little 
doubt of the answer. On the 13th of December, 1740, 
the Eubicon was passed, and the philosopher and musician 
commenced that military career which was destined to 
place him in the front rank of generals for all time. 

^ The proposal was : To ally himself and liis army with Maria 
Theresa and defend her rights against other claimants ; to resign the 
claims of the Hohenzollerns to Jiilich and Berg ; to help the Grand 
Duke of Tuscany, Maria Theresa's husband, to obtain the imperial 
crown ; and to pay a large sum of money into the Austrian exchequer, 
then sorely in need of it. In return for these services he demanded 
the four duchies of Silesia, hut was prepared to accept instead Savan 
and Glogau, which were on his frontier. 



A.D. ] 740— 1741. 

14th-2Sth Dec. 1740. 

On the 14th of December, Frederick was at Crossen, the 
place of concentration for his army. The force was about 
28,000 strong, one-fourth being cavahy, and thirty-two 
pieces of artillery, of which twenty were three-pounders, 
four twelve-pounders, four howitzers, and four fifty-pound 
mortars. The number of artillerymen was only 166. 
About 10,000 were to follow from Berhn in two days. At 
Crossen the king received and put aside a protest from the 
authorities at Griinberg on the other side of the frontier 
against his entering Silesia. This was all in proper order, 
but could have no effect. While the king was at Crossen, 
the old bell held up by rotten supports, came thundering 
down. " This is a good omen," said Frederick ; "the high 
are to be brought low." On the 16th of December the march 
began. The usual proclamations of invaders were issued. 
" The troops come as friends. There is to be strict discipline ; 
no plunder, and the best treatment for all who submit." At 
Griinberg, the burgermaster would not actually give the 
key of the town, but allowed it to lie on the table and be 
taken up by a Prussian officer without resistance. This 

occur A TION OF SILESIA. 65 

14th-2Sth Dec. 1740. 

diplomatic action may be taken as the type of Silesia's 
yielding at first. The country made no pretence of 
objection, and the towns, whispering they would ne'er 
consent, consented. Let us not forget that Silesia was 
more than half Protestant, and had suffered under Austrian 
religious intolerance. Chains of mountains divided it 
from Bohemia and Moravia ; it was fully open to Prussia. 
The Austrian military governor, Count Wallis, had pro- 
posed on the first alarm, some time ago, to throw a garrison 
into Breslau, the capital of the province and a free city, but 
the citizens would have none of it, saying that they were 
quite able to defend themselves, and even drilling vigor- 
ously. They sent provisions however into Glogau, where, 
strongly fortified. Count Wallis placed himself and a 
garrison, leaving his second in command. General Browne, 
to attend to the other two strong places, Brieg and Neisse. 
The march of the Prussians was slow. The weather, wet 
and stormy, was against them, and floods impeded their pro- 
gress ; but it is quite evident that at this time Frederick 
was a tyro in war, and did not understand, as he afterwards 
came to do, the value of celerity in movement. His army 
moved in two columns, not counting the reserve which was 
coming up from Berlin. The right column under Schwerin 
moved up the valley of the river Bober towards Liegnitz ; 
the left, under the king, marched upon Glogau, but reach- 
irg Herrendorf, five miles from the fortress, and finding 
Glogau prepared for defence, remained inactive there dur- 
ing six days — days of great importance, for this and other 
delays gave General Browne time to organise some sort of 
defence, to mend the fortifications of Brieg and Neisse, 
and throw garrisons, each 1,600 strong, and provisions into 
them. Glogau remained firm in its attitude of resistance. 
Frederick sent back for a siege train, but finally decided to 


14th Dec. m0-2nd Jan. 1741. 

invest tlie place and leave part of the reserve there under 
the younger Prince of Dessau, whose father had introduced 
the iron ramrods, and was now left behind to take charge 
of the defence of Prussia during Frederick's absence. The 
army lived chiefly by requisitions with promise to pay at a 
specified future time. The promise was faithfully kept, and 
it may be said once for all that Frederick's system of feed- 
ing his army by forced contributions punctually paid for, 
was in its nature and essence the same as that practised by 
the German armies to this day. The country was divided 
into circles, and the chief men of each circle were made 
responsible that troops passing through should receive all 
they required ; the word being passed from circle to circle 
in advance, what number of troops were coming, and the 
jirobable date of their arrival. This was the forerunner of 
the modern etappen system which has been derived from 
Frederick, and modified to suit the new conditions of rail- 
ways and telegraphs. The king was already business-like, 
though as yet not experienced in the great operations of 

On the 28th of December, Schwerin occupied Liegnitz in 
the early morning, and, about the same time, the king's 
column pushed forward on march to Breslau, yielding the 
duty of blockading Glogau to young Leopold of Dessau, 
who had come up the day before. Browne had put all the 
pressure he could on Breslau to receive an Austrian 
garrison ; but the people were as firm in denial as they 
had been to Count Wallis, and all Browne could do was to 
carry off the archives of the town, transporting them into 
Moravia. Frederick marched rapidly upon Breslau, seventy 
miles in three days, and by dint of combined negotiation 
and pressure of armed parties, had the town opened to him 
on the 2nd of January. The Austrian authorities were sent 


2nd Jan.-24th Feb. 1741. 

out of the town, and a campaign commissariat was organ- 
ised, nominally for military purposes. As time went on, 
the one organisation of the place asserted its power, and 
virtually became the government, to the contentment of 
the Protestant majority. 

On the 6th of January Frederick marched southward 
again, having previously detached General Jeetz to the left, 
to capture Namslau, a small town and castle on the road to 
Poland and Hungary, then to sweep round and invest Brieg 
from the east. Schwerin, with the right column, had also 
made a detachment to his right into the county of Glatz. 
So far all had gone well, but now the king began to feel 
General Browne's retarding efforts. Ohlau fell without 
difficulty, but Brieg, with its garrison of 1,600 good troops, 
refused to yield, though summoned by General Kleist, de- 
tached from the king's force on the south, and General 
Jeetz on the north. These detachments were left to invest 
the place, and the king pushed on towards Neisse. Even 
the little Namslau was stubborn, and Neisse could neither 
be tempted by good terms nor overawed by the display of 
the forces of Frederick and Schwerin, who by this time had 
rejoined the king, after capturing Ottmachau by force. 
The resistance of such places as Namslau and Ottmachau, 
though trifling in itself, served to delay the Prussians, who 
had been already too slow, and gave time for Neisse to pre- 
pare her defences. Jeetz received siege guns about the 
24th, and quickly captured Namslau, after which he com- 
pleted the investment of Brieg. Thus the greater part of 
Silesia was occupied without resistance ; only the three 
fortresses, Glogau, Brieg, and Neisse held out in a deter- 
mined manner, and the slowness of Frederick had given 
time for Neisse to be well armed and provisioned, its de- 
fence being in the hands of Colonel von Roth, a good and 


19th Jan.-27th Feb. 1741. 
determined officer. After some preliminary cannonade, a 
regular bombardment, partly with red-hot shot, commenced 
on the 19th, and continued at intervals till the evening of 
the 22nd, Sunday, but without any serious effect. Neisse 
would not yield, and the siege was converted into a block- 
ade like those of Glogau and Brieg. General Browne hung 
watching about the mountains, but was driven back by 
Schwerin as soon as the bombardment ceased, and, shortly 
afterwards, was supervseded by General Neipperg. The 
Prussian army scattered into winter quarters, only main- 
taining the three blockades ; and Frederick, who had shown 
no special generalship yet, went back to Berlin. In the 
seven weeks or so which were spent in over-running Silesia, 
a change had come over his spirit, as shown in his corre- 
spondence. He had begun by talking much of military 
glory, but from this time forth care sat behind him wher- 
ever he went. Silesia was his, except the fortresses, but 
without glory, and a storm was brewing in Europe, which 
might perhaps, sweep him away in its course. He spent 
three weeks in Berlin, and returned to his army full of 
grave thoughts. For he saw that all Europe was aroused, 
and that dangerous enmities to himself had awoke. True, 
his envoy to Russia had been successful, and returned with 
a treaty of friendship in his pocket ; but Austria refused 
altogether to come to any terms of compromise, and began 
to arm. His two near neighbours, George of Hanover 
(George TI., of England) and the Elector of Saxony, who 
was also King of Poland, were determined to support 
Austria and the Pragmatic Sanction, and Frederick, suc- 
cessful in Silesia, had reason to fear for his safety at home. 
He left the old Prince of Anhalt Dessau to take certain 
measures which we shall hear of later, and passed again to 
Silesia on the 19th of February. 


27th Feb. -5th Mar. 1741. 

By this time Austri,a had begun to work with her ir- 
regular troops, masking graver designs in rear, and incur- 
sions into Silesia began to be made by Hungarian hussars. 
On the 27th of February, Frederick, still young in war, set 
out to visit two of the Prussian posts in the head waters of 
the Neisse river, due west of the besieged town. The 
hussars heard daily of his movements, and determined to 
capture him if possible. Visiting Silberberg first, he next 
went to Wartha, where, fortunately for him, he halted to 
dine, sending forward a major with a squadron of Schulen- 
burg dragoons. The hussars, thinking that Frederick was 
with this party, attacked it from ambush, and defeated it 
with loss, then made off, as their wont was, leaving the way 
clear for the king, who thus by good luck escaped the 
results of his carelessness. At this time he seems to have 
fallen into a fault common among good soldiers. He often 
did himself what he should have left to subordinates. The 
excuse for him and for others, who to this day fall into the 
same error, is that he was learning his work, and was keen 
in studying every trifling detail. There was enough for 
Frederick to attend to in the keeping of the blockade, for 
on the 5th of March an Austrian detachment, 300 foot and 
300 horse, succeeded in eluding his vigilance, and slipped 
into Neisse as a reinforcement of the garrison. The king 
for his part was strengthening his army by enlistments in 
Silesia, 600 men' coming from Breslau alone in February 
and March. 

At the beginning of March startling news reached 
Frederick. The draft of a treaty to partition Prussia 
was lying at St. Petersburg, and only awaiting the signa- 
tures of England, Russia, and Saxony. It is clear that the 
English nation would have acted more wisely if it had 
buttoned its pockets and rested quietly in an observant 


March-2nd April 1741. 

posture. But England was at that time hampered by 
Hanover, that very inconvenient appendage of her royal 
house. George II. cared more for Hanover than for Eng- 
land, and was terribly anxious lest the unimportant German 
state should be eaten up by Frederick, who, however, had 
quite enough on his hands without meddling with Hanover. 
So then Russia, after signing a treaty of friendship with 
Prussia, was intriguing behind her back against her very 
life. Check to the king. Frederick's counter move was 
to direct the elder Prince Leopold of Dessau to place some 
36,000 Prussian soldiers in camp at Gbttin, near Magde- 
burg, ostensibly for purposes of manoeuvre. This force was 
in a position to march at a moment's notice, either against 
Saxony or Hanover. The would-be allies who had dreamed 
of partitioning Prussia were rudely awakened, and no more 
was heard of the idea for a long time to come. The camp 
began to be formed on the 2nd of April. 

About the same time as the news of the proposed 
partition reached Frederick, early in March, he heard also 
that Austria, having found money at last, probably from 
England, was sending General Neipperg through Moravia 
with a considerable force to attack Frederick in Silesia. 
It was not known exactly where Neipperg was, but the 
king, anxious to concentrate his forces, pressed the younger 
Leopold to complete the capture of Glogau, which was 
accordingly stormed during the night of the 8th-9th of 
March. The action was important as showing the excellent 
discipline of the Prussian troops, the clockwork regularity 
of design and movements, and the steady courage of the 
men. The Austrian garrison was about 1,000 strong, but 
so well was the operation conducted that the Prussians 
only lost fifty-eight men killed and wounded. There was no 
plundering. The feat attracted much notice in Europe, 


2nd April 1741. 

and greatly raised the credit of the Prussian army. The 
king was quick with praise and prize-money ; he gave 
Prince Leopold about £2,000., and to the soldiers gifts 
rising from about IO5. to £20. Prince Leopold quickly 
joined the king at Schweidnitz, helping to threaten Neisse 
and resist Neipperg if he should advance through the 

Neipperg had now reached Olmiitz, and detached General 
Lentulus with a corps to occupy the mountain gorges in 
the principality of Glatz ; to cover Bohemia, and be ready 
to assist in the operations upon the Neisse river. Frede- 
rick drew in many of his posts and concentrated, very 
rightly, though against the advice of Schwerin. The 
Austrian movements were concealed by a veil of irregular 
cavalry, which annoyed the Prussian outposts. Towards 
the close of March, Neipperg began his movement over the 
mountains to the relief of Neisse. The king wished 
Schwerin to come in from Jagerndorf, where he was 
posted, but, over-persuaded by him, reinforced him, and 
himself accompanied the reinforcing detachment. He 
was at Jagerndorf on the 2nd of April, in an open town, 
with only some three or four thousand men, utterly un- 
conscious of Neipperg's movements, when some Austrian 
deserters came in and reported that the whole Austrian 
army was within a few miles. It was actually at 
Freudenthal, some fifteen miles in a south-westerly direc- 
tion, marching upon Neisse, but Neipperg was as ignorant 
of Frederick's place as Frederick of his. He lost his 
opportunity, and his slow creeping movements enabled the 
king to draw in the detachments to Jagerndorf, to send 
orders to Holstein-Beck at Frankenstein, and to Kalkstein 
at Grotkau, that they should unite and join him at 
Steinau, twenty miles east of Neisse, crossing the river 


5tb-10th April 1741. 

by a temporary bridge at Sorgau, which is about twelve 
miles north by west of Steinau. Kalkstein joined accord- 
ingly with 10,000 men. Holstein-Beck did not, but took 
no notice of the Austrian movements, though Lentulus 
muat have passed very near him. On the 5th head- 
quarters were at Steinau, and Frederick heard that both 
Neipperg and Lentulus were at Neisse — actually nearer 
to Breslau than he himself was. On the 6th he moved 
northwards to Friedland, intending to work round Neip- 
perg's flank and get between him and Ohlau, where the 
great Prussian siege park was. His intention was to 
cross the bridge at Sorgau, but the Austrian cavalry 
had occupied the far end of it, and, after trying the 
passage, the king found himself baJSed. He moved down 
the river, and crossed on the 8th at Lbwen and Michelau. 
Nothing yet was heard of Holstein-Beck. The same day 
the king moved towards Grotkau, heard that the Aus- 
trians had taken it, marched about seven miles on the 
road from Lowen to Ohlau, and bivouacked at Pogarell, a 
small village, during a snowstorm. The force which had 
been blockading Brieg also joined him. His intention 
was to attack Neipperg next day, and fight his first great 
battle, upon which would hang such issues for his kingdom 
and himself as few young men of twenty nine years old 
had ever encountered. That night his fevered brain was 
unvisited by sleep. 

Next day (Sunday) there was wild weather. Frederick 
made all his dispositions for a battle, but did not move, as 
nothing could be seen twenty paces distant for the drifting 
snow. Neipperg, however, made a short march as far as 
Mollwitz, and was thus between the Prussians and Ohlau. 
Nothing can be a better proof of the crude state of warfare 
at that time than the fact that the two armies knew 


loth April 1741. 

nothing of each other's position, though the Austrian 
and Prussian head-quarters were only seven miles apart. 
Neipperg even assigned the mdrrow as a day of rest for 
his troops ; hut there was to be no rest for him. Next 
day, 10th of April, the king's army, which had now but 
one day's provisions, marched towards Mollwitz in four 
columns, two on each side of the high road, struggling 
along through the snow. Frederick heard of the Austrian 
position from a peasant. Neipperg knew nothing of the 
king's advance till detachments of Austrian and Prussian 
cavalry encountered two miles from Mollwitz. Here was 
a chance for a surprise which a little later Frederick would 
not have missed, but he had not yet drawn himself out of 
the dull style of war usual in that age. He was still 
wrapped in the nieshes of the parade-ground and barrack, 
square, and neither attempted a surprise nor strove to gain 
any tactical advantage by manoeuvre. Instead of this he 
solemnly and slowly deployed into two lines, each three 
deep, and advanced on Mollwitz with bands playing and 
colours flying, giving time to Neipperg to get himself into 
'battle trim. Probably in this his first battle he acted 
under advice from Schwerin. 

Neipperg was at dinner, but gave orders at once to 
Komer, who commanded his horse, to do what he could to 
delay the Prussians, who were effecting their deployment 
about a mile from Mollwitz. His dispositions, like those 
of Frederick, were to place the army in two parallel lines. 
The total strength of each army was about the same, 
namely, 20,000 men ; but Neipperg had about 8,600 cavalry 
of good quality, Frederick only about 4,000 of inferior 
stamp. On the other hand, the king had sixty guns, which 
he advanced well in front of his army, while Neipperg had 
only eighteen. And now mark the difficulties inherent in 



these parade battles. For all the drill which the Prussians 
had absorbed, they blundered in their movement on the right. 
Schulenburg, who commanded the cavalry, an oflScer of 
pipeclay and parade, muddled his deployment. His right 
ought to have rested on the village of Hermsdorf, his left 
to have touched the right of the infantry, whereas he fell 
short of reaching Hermsdorf, and crowded upon the infantry, 
so that there was no room for three battalions, which had 
to drop back at right-angles to the Prussian line, en potence 
as it is called in military phrase. We shall see afterwards 
that the blunder was lucky, but it was none the less a 
blunder. Following the example of Gustavus Adolphus 
at Liitzen, Frederick mixed two battalions of grenadiers 
with his cavalry, which was chiefly on the right, but partly 
on the left, of his army, interspersing the foot soldiers 
between the squadrons. The left of the Prussian lines 
rested on the boggy brook of Laugwitz. The infantry, in 
two lines, occupied the whole of the centre with the 
artillery in front of them. Neipperg was getting his army 
into, position in front of Mollwitz, also in two lines, with 
its right on the Laugwitz stream, its left on the village 
of Griiningen. 

Romer, the commander of the Austrian cavalry, arrived 
first on the ground. Seeing the Prussian right in difficul- 
ties, and being himself in much suffering from the fire of 
the Prussian artillery, which opened on the Austrian left 
at two o'clock, he led thirty squadrons at once to the attack 
of Schulenburg, whom he caught endeavouring to perfect 
his parade line by extending to the right in column. The 
Austrians were thirty squadrons, the Prussians ten ; and 
Schulenburg, with his pipeclay and his wheelings, was 
dashed into wild ruin, sweeping away Frederick himself, 
who had joined this part of the army. Schulenburg fell 



dead. The Austrian cavalry passed in front and rear of 
the first infantry line; but the steady discipline of the 
Prussian foot soldiers, and the strengthening of the flank 
by the three battalions en 'potence, saved the army. The 
quick fire of the Prussians, due partly to the iron ramrods 
and partly to much practice, repulsed the Austrian cavalry, 
who, however, carried off nine of the Prussian guns. Again 
and again did Pomer charge the Prussian line, but could 
make no impression upon it. He even swept round to the 
rear of the second line and charged them, but Prince 
Leopold, who commanded it, faced the men to the rear and 
repulsed the charge. Pbmer himself was killed. The 
grenadier battalions which had been mixed with the cavalry 
stood their ground, and even succeeded in attaching them- 
selves to the main line of the infantry amid the whirl 
and hurry of the horse. This instance of perfect discipline 
shows very clearly the excellent quality of Frederick's 
infantry as bequeathed to him by his father. Saving his 
first terrible blunder at being surprised, Neipperg seems to 
have acted vigorously. He supported Pomer with cavalry 
from his right wing, and endeavoured to improve the advan- 
tage gained by the cavalry by pushing forward an infantry 
attack under Goldlein. It was an antique style of fighting, 
good enough according to the spirit of the day ; but the 
Austrian infantry could not advance under the terrible fire 
of the Prussian artillery and infantry. 

The troops fell back, and placing a line of knapsacks for 
defence, knelt and fired during the afternoon, gradually, 
however, melting and streaming back. Seeing this, Schwerin, 
for Frederick was not now present, advanced his whole line, 
solid as a wall, with military music and display of banners. 
The demonstration was enough. Neipperg saw that he had 
lost control over his troops, and gave the order to retreat. The 


sun had just gone down, and tlie Prussians, much hampered 
in those days by desire of keeping their ranks trim, did not 
pursue beyond the village of Laugwitz. The Austrians 
retreated upon Neisse, passing next day in confusion within 
two miles of the Duke of Hoist ein, who made no attempt 
whatever to destroy them. The Austrian loss in killed, 
wounded, and missing was rather less than the Prussian — 
4,400 against 4,613, but they lost nine out of thoir eighteen 
guns, besides eight of the nine Prussian pieces which 
they had captured. 

But where was Frederick during the latter part of the 
battle % When the charge of the Austrian cavalry appeared 
so successful as to threaten the life of the army, Schwerin, 
doubtless uneasy at the condition of events, pressed the 
king to retire. He, affected by the wild rout of the cavalry, 
and unnerved by want of sleep for two nights, followed his 
general's advice and rode through the night. He endea- 
voured to cross the Oder at Oppeln, but was fired at there 
by a party of Austrian hussars, who had taken possession 
of the town ; thence back to Lowen, where he heard that 
Mollwitz was a victory, not a defeat, and was again at that 
place before night. He had not slept for three nights, and 
had passed through such a turmoil of mind as was perhaps 
only equalled in his life when he saw poor Katte led out 
to execution, not knowing but that his own turn might 
speedily come. 

The philosopher Maupertuis, whom Frederick had at- 
tracted to his court, was captured by the Austrians, and 
carried to Yienna. His wish to see a battle led him into 
a somewhat ridiculous posture. But the same desire has 
been felt by other great men. It wdll be long ere man 
ceases to be a fighting animal. 

I have been thus particular in describing the battle of 



Mollwitz and the manoeuvres which led to it, because the 
genius of Frederick the Great as a soldier cannot be appre- 
ciated without first understanding the kind of strategy 
and tactics which prevailed before he placed upon them the 
mark of his spirit. The designs of campaigns were usually 
feeble, and directed to no definite end. The art of rapid 
marching was almost extinct ; the intelligent watch of an 
enemy's movement, which every cadet of to-day under- 
stands to be so necessary, would then have been considered 
extraordinary. On the field of battle the two opposing 
armies drew themselves up and fired and charged till one 
of them had had enough of it and retired, usually more or 
less unmolested by the victor. Brieg was left untouched till 
the 26th, sixteen days after the battle. It yielded on the 
4th of May, after a heavy bombardment, without assault. 
The king's army lay inactive for three weeks, in order to 
allow time to fill up the trenches and revictual the place. 
Neipperg remained in camp about Neisse, and during the 
rest of this campaign a series of small outpost and cavalry 
affairs occurred between his troops and the Prussians, 
in which the name of the future light cavalry leader, 
Ziethen, first came into the ears of men. He was made 
lieutenant-colonel for one of his exploits, being then forty- 
two years old — a "big-headed, thick-lipped, decidedly ugly 
little man." ^ 

^ Carlyle's Frederick the Great. 





A.D. 1741—1742. 

loth April 1741. 

The opening of the trenches at Brieg was signalised by 
the presence of the Comte de Belle-Isle of France, grandson 
of the famous Fouquet, whose splendour of living cost him 
ruin and loss of liberty in the early days of Louis XIV. 
Comte Belle-Isle was fifty-six years old, a clever, grandiose, 
intriguing soldier and diplomatist, worthy to carry out 
the meddling designs of Louis XV., in opposition to the 
cautious counsels of the aged Fleury. He had set out 
from France at the end of March, on a journey which had 
for its object to upset the Pragmatic Sanction, though France, 
among other powers, had guaranteed it ; and to snatch 
from the House of Austria the Kaisership, which had, from 
the habit of many years, become, as it were, vested in the 
Hapsburg family. Though France could not possibly 
claim the imperial crown for herself, Belle-Isle had 
determined that it should grace the brows of a German 
prince, who would be the nominee and the servant of 
France. He visited the various German courts, and did 


loth April-5th June 1741. 

in time succeed by diplomatic arts * in causing them all to 
repudiate the Pragmatic Sanction. Finally, he drew them 
into an arrangement by whiph Karl Albert of Bavaria 
was to be elected Kaiser, Frederick to be confirmed in the 
possession of Silesia, the King of Poland, who was also 
Elector of Saxony, to take Moravia and part of Bohemia, 
resigning to the Palatine Elector his claims upon Berg 
and Jiilich. Under pretence of guarding the freedom of 
election, France was to send two armies of 40,000 each, 
with reserves, across the Upper and Lower Rhine. She 
did actually send these two armies in August. The upper 
army, which was eventually to be commanded by Belle- 
Isle, crossed by Strasburg, and was destined to support 
Karl Albert in attacking Austria along the line of the 
Danube. The lower army crossed near Diisseldorf under 
Maillebois, with the object of holding in check the Dutch 
and the English — or rather the Hanoverians with English 
help ; for at this time there had come upon the English also 
a burning desire to meddle in business which by no means 
concerned them. 

It would seem that Belle-Isle did little with Frederick, 
but the regular French ambassador, Valori, remained at his 
camp in a perpetual, though covert, struggle with the 
English ambassador, Hyndford. The oft'er of France was 
to guarantee Silesia to the king, but one day Yalori let fall 
a letter which he had received from home, telling him by 
no means to allow Frederick to have Glatz county, 
though that key of Bohemia was one of the points on 
which he most strongly insisted. The king put his foot 
on the letter, and, when Valori was dismissed, picked 
it up and read it. Here then was one power clearly try- 
ing to cheat him. On the other hand, England, through 
1 Bribery was freely employed. See Frederic II, et Marie T/Urise. 


loth April-5th June 1741. 

Hyndford, was protesting friendship and goodwill, while actu- , 
ally voting supplies for the Austrian court. Hyndford was 
incessant in his pressure upon Frederick to come to terms 
with Austria, and the king was quite willing, but only on 
his own terms, which were gradually raised as he perceived 
himself more and more to be master of the situation. At first 
England offered him £200,000 to quit Silesia. "When George 
II. tried pressure of another kind, and persuaded the Dutch 
to join him in calling upon the King of Prussia to retire 
from Silesia as a step to negotiations for peace with Austria, 
Frederick had wind of the Joint Kesolution before it was 
presented, and, on the 5th of June, signed a contingent 
treaty with France, not agreeing to all the grand schemes 
of Belle-Isle, but only to that part of them which would 
strengthen his own hands by combining France and 
Bavaria in operations against Austria upon the Danube. 
But the English diplomatists were still indefatigable in 
endeavouring to detach Frederick from the combination 
against Austria. Hyndford at Strehlen, and Eobinson at 
Vienna, were immensely active in trying to strengthen 
Austria no"^j just as active as English diplomatists had 
been a few short years before in trying to weaken her. 
And they did, in fact, succeed at last in bringing about an 

All men of heart must sympathise with the high- 
spirited young Queen Maria Theresa, whose husband, 
Francis of Tuscany, was the Austrian candidate for the 
imperial crown. It was not her fault that the Hohen- 
zollerns had been cheated out of Silesia, nor had her voice 
been heard when her father promised JUlich and Berg to 
Frederick William and to the Elector Palatine at the same 
time. A woman, young, beautiful, high-souled, and im- 
petuous, it must have appeared to her that the whole of 


6th June-lOth Aug. 1741. 

Europe, except England and the Dutch, were acting vilely 
by her, and that Frederick's attack on Silesia was the deed 
of a robber and common enemy of mankind. Arch- 
Duchess of Austria and Queen of Hungary, she was 
passionately determined to preserve the integrity of her 
dominions if she could. She had been received with 
acclamations by her Hungarian subjects, when, at the 
ceremony of her coronation, she, a bright young queen, 
and a mother of three months' standing, galloped to the 
top of the Konigsberg, and with flashing sabre cut de- 
fiantly towards the four quarters of the world. Since then 
there had been differences with the Hungarian Diet ; but 
she had all the elasticity and faith of youth, and could not 
believe but that all would go well. It was a hard task for 
her to compromise with Frederick, nor could the solicita- 
tions of the English ambassador induce her to do so till she 
had delivered one more stroke for Silesia. 

Neipperg, therefore, marched from Neisse in the first week 
of August, about thirty miles westward along the river 
Neisse, then crossed it, intending by forced marches to 
surprise and seize Breslau. But Frederick's information 
was good,, and on the 10th of August he caused Schwerin 
to occupy that town, free no longer, with 8,000 men. 
Keipperg fell back, and the king at last began to manoeuvre 
against his enemy's communications, as he ought to have 
done long ago if he wished to drive him from the intended 
camp near ISTeisse. There is nothing worth relating in these 
movements, which were cut short by diplomatic action. 
Neipperg's descent upon Breslau having failed, and the two 
French armies actually crossing the Ehine in August, the 
unfortunate Maria Theresa yielded at last, and consented to 
a secret arrangement by which Neipperg was to be allowed 
to retire in safety, being much needed nearer home. Neisse 


lOth Aug. -I4th Sept. 1741. 

was to be given up to Frederick after a sham siege, and 
Silesia was to be ceded to the King of Prussia, whose 
army, instead of acting against Austria, would then go 
into winter quarters. But Frederick attached to this secret 
treaty one condition, that if it should be divulged through 
fault of the Austrian court, it was not to be considered 
binding, and he should be at liberty to repudiate it. The 
Austrian court did not keep the secret, and all the facts 
were blazoned abroad ; upon which, as we shall see hereafter, 
^Frederick did repudiate it. It is impossible to defend these 
transactions from the point of view of morality, or even of 
common honesty, but it is only fair to Frederick to 
remember that the whole arrangement was made through 
the medium of England, whose ambassadors were from 
first to last busy in the transaction. The fact is that 
every court was intriguing and deceiving, and the only 
difference was that Frederick, by his energetic action, had 
placed himself in a commanding position. They were all 
trying to cheat him, and he cheated them. To use a 
familiar illustration they treated the young king like the 
Heathen Chinee in the American story, and hardly had the 
right to complain when he was discovered to have the 
bower ace up his sleeve.^ 

On the 14th of September, Karl Albert, with a Bavarian 
army, strengthened by two divisions, 15,000 men, of the 
French upper army, his total force being about 40,000 men, 
appeared before Linz, and occupied that city. Saxony, 
anxious to secure her share of the spoil, signed a treaty 

1 The Due de BrogUe is highly indignant with Frederick's actions 
at this time, mainly because they prevented France from becoming 
mistress of Europe. But his own book shows how vilely France be- 
haved on all sides. It was, as the Duke confesses, 
Frederick's were keener than Fleury's or Belle-Isle's. 


19th-21st Sept. 1741. 

with France and Bavaria on the 19th. She was capable of 
putting about 20,000 men in the field. Vienna was in 
great terror. Bavaria was advancing towards her with 
40,000 men, and all Europe seemed to have determined 
upon the downfall of Austria. General Khevenhiiller, who 
was in command of the Austrian garrison, had but a poor 
6,000 men to defend the place. He showed great energy 
and considerable ability in preparing the town to resist the 
attack. Maria Theresa was at Presburg, where she had 
summoned the Hungarian magnates to her palace on the 
11th. She told them that they were her only allies in the 
world, and that she threw herself on their generosity. The 
rude but chivalrous Magyars were touched, and thereupon 
voted an " insurrection," that is, a general armament of the 
country in her favour, and elected her husband co-regent 
of the kingdom. He arrived on the 20th ; the ceremony 
of his investiture took place on the 21st, and the charming 
young mother then and there struck a chord of sympathy, 
which not only thrilled the hearts of the Hungarians, but 
vibrated throughout the whole of Europe. While the 
Magyars were swearing, she had her lusty boy held up to 
them in the arms of an attendant ; her husband shouted, 
" Life and blood for our queen and kingdom," and the wild 
chiefs repeated the sentiment with cheers, being touched to 
the heart with the beauty, courage, and weakness of the 
young queen and mother. The Hungarian militia, a very 
ancient institution, were called out and furnished, through- 
out the wars which ensued, a large- number of fight troops, 
very similar in nature and habits of fighting to the 
Cossacks before they were brought into regular regiments 
within the last few years. This was the turning point of 
Maria Theresa's fortunes. At the moment she had almost 
reason to despair, and nothing could have saved her, if, as 


21st Sept. -24th Oct. 1741 

Frederick advised, the Bavarian army had inarched upon 
Vienna. But Karl Albert, probably influenced by the 
French, whose policy would have been endangered if 
Austria had been completely crushed, remained inactive at 
Linz, only pushing detachments forward to threaten Vienna 
from a distance of forty miles. His delay gave time for 
the Austrians to recruit Khevenhliller's force, and to draw 
in some of their Italian garrisons to Vienna. On the 16th 
of October, in accordance with the secret treaty, Neipperg 
retired unmolested from Silesia, and in three weeks was at 
Frating, west of Znaim, in the south-west of Moravia, 
where he awaited orders from Vienna, ready to descend on 
the flank of any force moving from Linz to the Austrian 
capital. On the 21st of October, a month after Maria 
Theresa's successful appeal to the manhood of the Hun- 
garians, Neisse capitulated after a sham siege but very real 
bombardment, and Frederick returned to Berlin, where he 
arrived on the 11th of November, having already heard 
that the Austrian court had divulged the secret of the 
treaty, and that he was once more free to act as his interests 
might dictate. 

On the 24th of October, the Bavarian force which was 
threatening Vienna from Mautern, instead of attacking that 
city, marched northwards towards Prague. The French 
advanced divisions, which were further back, moved in the 
same direction under Count Maurice de Saxe, one of the 354 
sons of King August the Strong. We shall hear more of 
Maurice de Saxe hereafter. He was then forty years old, 
a clever, reckless soldier, devoid of morality and good faith. 
Among the utterly untrustworthy, famous men of his time, 
he was one of those to be trusted least ; but such as he stood 
he was the life of this expedition. Further back again from 
Donauworth, came the main body of the French upper 


24th Oct.-26th Nov. 1741. 

army under General Polastron. All these forces marched in 
a northerly direction upon Prague, leaving a garrison 
detachment of about 10,000 French and Bavarians, under 
the Comte de Segur, to garrison .Linz and observe Vienna. 
From the north came down towards Prague the whole of 
the Saxon army, 21,000 strong. The combined French- 
Bavarian-Saxon army was some 60,000 strong, and crept 
slowly, as was the habit of the time, towards the doomed 
city with its garrison of 3,000 under General Ogilvy. The 
concentration took place between the 19 th and 21st of 
November, four weeks from the time of starting. The 
longest distance marched was about 260 miles, or at the 
rate of only nine miles per day. 

It is difficult to conceive worse strategy than this. 
Instead of striking at the enemy's capital, almost within 
grasp, the whole effort is concentrated upon capturing an 
unimportant town in Bohemia, which must have fallen 
afterwards. Munich, the capital of Bavaria, was left 
insufficiently protected, and a weak force remained at Linz 
and thereabouts, offering a tempting morsel for Khevenhiiller 
to swallow when he was strong enough. 

About the same time as the French and Bavarians 
moved, Maria Theresa's husband, the Grand Duke Franz, 
marched with about 30,000 men also for Prague, or at 
any rate to fight the enemy, picked up Neipperg at 
Frating on the 7th of November, and Lobkowitz at Neuhaus 
in Bohemia, so that he was at that time actually stronger 
than the allies. But like them he lingered on the way, and 
only arrived in the neighbourhood of Prague on the 26th, 
in time to learn that, the night before, the town had been 
stormed by a threefold attack, and that Ogilvy and his 
garrison were pi'isoners. Upon this the Grand Duke Franz 
fell back into the broken and boggy country near Budweis. 


19th Dec. 1741-18th Jan. 1742. 

Belle-Isle was to have commanded the French army which 
attacked Prague ; but, when the time drew near, he was 
sick of rheumatic fever, and Field Marshal Broglio was 
sent from France to take his place. He arrived at Prague 
about Christmas time ; Karl Albert having started from 
Munich on the 19th of December. The Grand Duke Franz 
also left his army and went southwards towards Vienna. 

Meanwhile Frederick holding himself free from the secret 
treaty with Vienna because it had been divulged, drew 
closer the bonds of his alliance with France and Bavaria, 
signing on the 4th of November the ratification of a definite 
contract with the allies. On the 8th he signed a separate 
treaty with Saxony, arranging the boundary between Silesia 
and the Moravian-Bohemian country, now supposed to be 
among the dominions of the King of Poland, who called 
himself also King of Moravia. Frederick had in his mind 
at this time the design of an expedition which might 
perhaps undo the mischief wrought by the French and 
Bavarians when they quited the Danube for Bohemia. His 
idea was to unite with the French and Saxons and push 
downwards through Moravia in support of the Comte da 
Segur, and perhaps arrive even at Vienna itself. It was 
indeed time to do something, for Khevenhiiller was assem- 
bling a formidable Austrian force. On the 31st of December 
Khevenhiiller issued from Vienna with 15,000 men, sending 
General Biirenklau with 10,000 through the Tyrol by 
Berchtesgarten to attack Munich itself, now destitute of 
any proper force to defend it. 

Though Frederick was at this period still inexperienced 
in war, and therefore not to be counted as a model for 
imitation, we begin to see in him that burning energy and 
force of character which afterwards made him the first 
leader of his time. On the 18th of January he left Berlin 


Jan. 1742. 

for Dresden, where, he remained twenty-four hours, succeed- 
ing during that short period in persuading the unwilling 
Saxon court and generals to fall into his scheme. Thence 
in that wild winter weather he rushed into Bohemia, visiting 
the Prussian outposts there, and arrived at Glatz on the 
24th of January, having travelled about 700 miles, and done 
much important business in one week. Another mark of 
his peculiar spirit also presents itself at this time. He had 
sent in December the younger Prince Leopold to occupy 
Glatz, and Schwerin to capture Olmiitz. Both operations 
were performed with ease and success, the Austrian forces 
being weak. In the extremity of danger to Glatz, the 
wife of the commandant vowed a new robe and decorations 
to an image of the Virgin Mary there, if only by her aid 
Glatz might succeed in repulsing the invaders. We have 
seen that the town was not so fortunate, but when Frederick 
appeared there he said with mixed good nature and con- 
tempt for the forms of religion which had been forced down 
his throat as a youth, " Never mind, the Virgin shall have 
her new coat all the same," and he did accordingly supply 
her with one at his expense. 

The day of Frederick's arrival at Glatz, 24th of January 
1742, was memorable for two other occurrences of high 
fame, the one practical, the other empty of all power in the 
world. The first was the capture of Linz, and of Segur's 
10,000 men by Khevenhiiller. The commander and gar- 
rison were suffered to retire on promise that they would 
not serve against Austria for a year to come ; the second 
was the election of Karl Albert of Bavaria to be Kaiser of 
Holy Beich. Belle-Isle's schemes had arrived at their 
fulfilment, with what value or want of value to France and 
Europe we shall presently see. 

It would be vain and wearisome to detail the episodes in 


5th reb.-5tli April 1742. 

the short campaign which followed. Frederick made his 
rendezvous at Wirchau on the 5th of February, and did push 
Schwerin forward with an advance guard of about 5,000 
men as far as Stein, some forty or more miles short of 
Vienna. The cavalry under Ziethen even pushed within 
twenty miles of the capital. But Frederick could not drag 
his allies with him. The French contingent,^ about 5,000 
men, gave up the game altogether, and the Saxons could 
not be got to stir out of Moravia. There was a useless 
siege of Brunn which failed entirely for want of siege 
artillery, which the so-called King of Moravia refused to 
send, saying he could not afford it, though he had just spent 
an immense sum of money upon a single green diamond to 
embellish his vaults at Dresden. Early in March the 
effects of the Hungarian " insurrection " began to appear 
in the shape of clouds of irregulars who swept over the 
Carpathians, threatening Moravia and even Silesia. 

Worse news soon came to Frederick. By the irony of 
fate, on the very day, 12th of February, 1742, when Karl 
Albert, ill with gout and gravel was being crowned Emperor 
at Frankfurt, the wild irregulars of Biirenklau's force oc- 
cupied Munich under their cruel leader Mentzel, and on the 
25th of February it was decided at Vienna to push forward 
a strong army against the allies. As neither the French 
nor the Saxons would fulfil their engagements, Frederick 
relinquished his purpose, and was back at Wirchau on the 
5th of April, exactly two months after he had started on this 
futile campaign. But he had in the meantime sent orders 
home that the elder Prince Leopold should join him with 
20,000 men, which accordingly Leopold did later, and was 
sent with part of them to drive back the Hungarian 

^ The Due de Broglie defends his ancestor, but only makes it clearer 
that Broglio deliberately spoiled this design of Frederick. 


April-llth May 1742. 

irregulars in the direction of Troppau-Jablunka, while the 
rest of them should reinforce the king and the younger 
Leopold, whose forces were to go into cantonments at 
Chrudim and its neighbourhood. Prince Dietrich, of Anhalt, 
another son of old Leopold, was left at Olmiitz with a small 
force to waste the country, sweep in all possible provisions, 
and join his father. He carried out the service in a 
masterly manner worthy of the stock which had invented 
most of the drills of Frederick William's army, and intro- 
duced the iron ramrods. 

Frederick was greatly irritated at the results of this 
short campaign, and the untrustworthiness of his allies. 
Writing of it afterwards he said that his want of success 
was due to the fact that the French acted like fools, and 
the Saxons like traitors. 

He spoke of winter campaigns generally with aversion, 
as likely to ruin the best army, and defended himself for 
having undertaken them on this and other occasions, by 
saying that each one in which he had engaged was entered 
upon from necessity, and not from choice. Frederick was 
now growing in self-confidence, and did not hesitate to pull 
up sharply old Leopold when he ventured to stray from the 
orders given him, at which naturally enough the old warrior 
took some offence, but was even more strict in the per- 
formance of his duty Schwerin on the contrary, who had 
been recalled from the front, was offended at the preference 
given to old Leopold for the Troppau-Jablunka expedition, 
and retired in dudgeon to Berlin. 

On the 11th of May Frederick found that Prince Charles'b 
army,^ about 30,000 strong, was advancing upon him, pro- 
bably with the intention of stealing round his right flank, 

^ Prince Charles of Loraine had now taken command of the Austrian 
army, and held it for a long time. 


May 1742. 

cutting him off from communication with his allies at 
Prague, and capturing his magazines, which were on the 
other side of the Elbe at Koniggriitz, Nimburg, Podie- 
brad, and Pardubitz. The concentration of his troops on 
Chrudin was effected on the 13th, and he then commanded 
an army about 28,000 men strong. The king sent to 
Broglio for reinforcements, which the old marshal, who 
was more than half-paralysed, refused, trembling lest the 
attack should be directed against him instead of Frederick. 
On the 15th all indications showed that the Austrians would 
turn the king's right, and he accordingly marched with a 
strong advanced guard of cavalry and gi'enadiers towards 
Kuttenberg, on the road to Prague, leaving orders with the 
younger Leopold to follow him next day, as soon as bread 
had arrived from Kbniggratz. The bread did not come, 
but Leopold was wise enough to march without it, carrying 
meal instead. Leopold did well in advancing, for although 
he did not know it, the Austrian advanced guard had been 
at Chotieborz on the morning of the 15 th, and by the 
direction of its march, would come into collision with the 
king. The want of a proper intelligence department in the 
armies in those days is very apparent. Here were two 
considerable armies manoeuvring with deadly purpose, 
within fifteen miles of each other, yet neither knowing 
the whereabouts of the other. 

On the night of the 15th Frederick encamped at Podhorzan 
and saw Prince Karl's advanced guard at E-onnow, within 
three or four miles. Next day Frederick pushed on to 
Kuttenberg, sending orders to Leopold to march to Czaslau. 
But Leopold now found himself in presence of the Austrian 
main force, and only reached Chotusitz with great difficulty 
in the first half of the night. He sent no less than four 
messengers to the king, of whom only one arrived (a good 


ITth May-llih June 1742. 

lesson here) saying that he expected to be attacked next 
morning, and desired instructions and reinforcements. At 
two or three in the morning, the answer came back, order- 
ing him to take up a position near Chotusitz, and that the 
king would join him at seven o'clock, bringing bread with 

In the grey of the morning, the 17th of May, 1742, 
Leopold, in accordance with Frederick's instructions, drew 
up his forces on the flat ground about Chotusitz. His main 
cavalry force, under Buddenbrock, was on the right, rest- 
ing its right flank, which was a little advanced, against a 
small tract of bog and ponds. His left, also supported by 
cavalry, extended westward of Chotusitz (which he held as 
his centre) and beyond the Brtlinka brook, after which 
it ended in the air, having been intended to reach a 
park wall further on the left, but falling short of it. The 
Austrians had been marching in the night with the intention 
of making a night attack, but had failed to arrive in time. 
Their advance was made in two lines, like the formation of 
the defending army, with cavalry on both wings. Prince 
Charles was, as we have seen, rather superior in force to 
Frederick's power, even when the king joined Leopold, and 
placed his reinforcements in the second line between seven 
and eight o'clock. Jomini gives the relative forces as — 
Austrians, 30,000 ; Frederick, about 24,000 ; but Carlyle, 
who is very careful as to details, counts the Prussians as 
28,000. The Austrian centre was divided by the Brtlinka 
brook, so that their left wing was over-lapped by Frederick's 
right, that is, by Buddenbrock' s cavalry, while the Austrian 
right extended further east than the left of the Prussians. 
Immediately upon Frederick's arrival, his artillery of the 
right wing, always well in front of the infantry, opened fire 
upon the cavalry of the Austrian left ; and Buddenbrock, 



17th May-llth June 1742. 

who had hitherto been concealed by a slight elevation, was 
ordered to launch his cavalry against that of the enemy. 
Bredow led the charge, which struck fiercely on the Aus- 
trian flank, driving in the first line of the southern horse- 
men. But now a stroke of ill fortune befell the Prussians. 
As, in the disorder which always follows a cavalry charge, 
they came upon the second line of the Austrians, and 
were checked by it ; the king's advance guard, under 
Bothenburg, pressed on to support them, having in front 
of it a regiment of hussars in green uniform. The dress 
was new to the eyes of some of the Prussian cavalry, who 
raised a cry of, '^ The enemy is in rear of us ! " Panic then 
prevailed, and Buddenbrock's cavalry only rallied behind 
the infantry of the second line. Bothenbui'g, however, 
restored the fortune in this part of the field, by repelling 
the pursuing Austrian cavalry, and pushing on even to the 
flank of the enemy's infantry. There was now much con- 
fusion here, neither side prevailing for a time. Further 
eastward the Austrians were successful. The left of the 
Prussians had become over-stretched in the attempt to find 
a rest for the flank, so that Chotusitz was weakly defended 
by only half a regiment. The cavalry of that wing could 
not act with effect in the broken ground, and were them- 
selves outflanked by the Austrian cavalry. The Austrian 
infantry captured Chotusitz partially, the Prussian still 
holding to its northern extremity, and quelling most gallant 
charges of the enemy by their steadiness and rapidity of 
fire. But, instead of charging the Prussian flank or rear, 
the Austrian cavalry galloped off to take and plunder the 
Prussian camp. Thus, then, to westward, the fight was 
hanging in suspense : to eastward the Austrian right wing 
had gained some advantage, but had lost its cavalry by 
yielding to the temptation so dear to holiday tacticians of 


17th May-llth June 1742. 

entering the enemy's camp. Chotusitz was on fire, and in- 
terposed with its torrid heat between the two wings of the 
Austrian army. Arguing after the event, it is always easy 
for library students to see what ought to have been done ; 
but it is only the true general who can so read the features 
of a battle during the midst of the turmoil as to see clearly 
when and how an opportunity has arisen. In this battle we 
see for the first time that such military vision was possessed 
by Frederick. In the critical moment he ordered his whole 
right wing to charge the Austrians, while a weaker general 
would probably have reinforced his left. The charge was 
completely successful ; the Austrian left, outflanked, began 
to fall back in confusion on its right ; and Prince Charles, 
to avoid a worse fate, gave the order for a general retreat, 
which was not pushed as it ought to have been by the 
Prussians.^ The Austrian loss in killed, wounded, and 
missing, was about 7,000 ; the Prussian between 4,000 
and 5,000; but the Prussian loss in killed, principally 
owing to the cavalry panic, was 1,905 against 1,052 of 
the Austrians. Above 1,200 of the Prussian cavalry had 
been destroyed during the day. 

Slight as had been the military results of the battle in 
favour of Frederick, they were enough to dispirit the 
Austrian court, which had as it were lost its throw of the 
dice. Maria Theresa was now ready to make peace with 
Frederick, and it is said that he became possessed, 
shortly after the battle, of a letter from Fleury to the 
Queen of Hungary, offering to make peace with her 
secretly, and leave the king to her tender merfcies. 
Once more he saw, or supposed, that his allies were 
cheating him, and again played his concealed ace. On- 

^ The Due de Broglie imagines that there were some elaborate reasons 
for this failure to pursue. It was a common fault of that time. 

G 2 


11th June 1742. 

the 11th of June he signed at Breslau a treaty by which 
Silesia and even Glatz were yielded up to him.^ When 
Belle-Isle went to him ia person to remonstrate with him 
for treating the King of France badly, Frederick con- 
founded the diplomatist by producing the letter from 
Fleury to the Austrian court, offering peace on the basis 
of leaving Prussia for Maria Theresa to deal with as she 
pleased. It is said that Belle-Isle's equanimity was so 
disturbed that, on coming out of the king's presence, he 
tore off his own wig and dashed it on the ground. One can 
fancy the flash of Frederick's eye as he produced the com- 
promising letter, which was probably written without the 
knowledge of Belle-Isle. Certainly in those days, truth, 
instead of finding refuge in the breast of kings, was no 
where treated with such contempt as in the Courts of 

^ The Due de Broglie can iSnd no proof of this story of the letter. 
But it is at least certain that the French agent at St. Petersburg was 
trying to reconcile Russia and Sweden, though Frederick had bar- 
gained that they were to be kept separate so as not to act against his 
northern and north-eastern frontiers. 







•a.d. 1742—1745. 


Frederick was now thirty years old, and had learnt much 
in the last two or three years of his life. The idea of glory 
which had dazzled him when first deciding on his expedition 
into Silesia, had now become dim and cold ; moreover he had 
gained what he sought, and vindicated the claims of his 
house to the rich territory out of which it had been cheated. 
It was now his hope to settle down to the arts of peace, 
and on his return to Berlin he busied himself chiefly with 
the government of the kingdom, the improvement of his 
capital, and the reorganisation of Silesia in a Prussian 
sense. So successful were his measures to this end that, 
under his fostering care, Silesia became six or eight times 
as valuable to the Prussian crown as it had in former days 
been to that of Austria. There are few instances on record 
of a territory lately conquered, becoming so thoroughly 


nth May 1742-27tli June 1743; 

loyal and happy as Silesia under Frederick. He was abso- 
lutely tolerant of all religions, though he exacted obedience 
alike from priests and parsons. As much piety as they 
liked and could produce he would have, and perfect freedom 
of worship ; but there must be no interference by religion- 
ists with the act of government or the secular arm. He 
himself appointed Cardinal von Sinzendorf vicar-general of 
Silesia, and gave the Pope, who protested, to understand 
that he was master in his own territories. Protestant, and 
even free-thinker as he was, he soon became excellent 
friends with the Holy Father. His kingdom was thoroughly 
well-managed; he possessed his father's appetite for the 
details of work with a liberality of feeling all his own, and 
while btiilding a new opera-house at Berlin, and developing 
the academy of sciences, while creating the little country- 
house and establishnient of Sans-Souci, he busied himself 
with law reform, and greatly increased the army ; to which 
he added new perfections in drill and tactics, derived from 
his past exjperiences of war. He seemed to unite in him- 
self various and apparently opposite qualities. The stern 
king who held his own against the diplomacies and the 
armies of Europe, was such an exquisite musician that he 
could melt his audience to tears, by hiS performance on the 
flute, wept like a child when his mother died, and was 
known to lament as a weakness in himself that he had 
more feeling than other men. His admiration of Voltaire 
and his works was almost passion, yet when that 
famous man visited him at the baths of Aix-la-Chapelle, 
being sent by Fleury to try whether private friendship 
could be used for diplomatic purposes, he had no more 
success with Frederick than Belle-Isle, or any other pro- 
fessional diplomatist. The King of Prussia saw as clearly 
in politics as on the field of battle. His own interests and 


11th May 1742.27th June 1743. 

those of his country were the objects upon which he fixed 
his eyes, nor could any wheedling turn him to the right or 
left out of the straight path to this goal. 

Thiebault, in his Souvenirs de vingtans de Sejour ^ 
Berlin, gives an interesting description of the king's habits 
which he commenced on coming to the throne, and con- 
tinued throughout almost the whole of his life.^ Having 
determined to become an early riser, he ordered his servants 
to wake him at four o'clock. But like meaner men in the 
same case, he aft first could not shake off the dulness of 
his faculties, and dropped to sleep again, even entreating 
his servants for a little more slumber. He was, however, 
determined to vanquish this weakness, and appointing a 
special servant for the purpose, commanded him, under pain 
of becoming a common soldier for life, to put a cold wet 
towel on his face every morning at four o'clock. This 
rough measure conquered his sleepiness, and all the rest of 
his life, until near the end, he rose at that early hour. 
The practice of quick dressing which his father had im- 
pressed upon him as a boy never forsook him. His military 
dress and high boots which he always wore were slipped on 
at once, and in a quarter of an hour he was ready. He 
had neither slippers nor dressing-gown ; only at times 
when he was very ill did he use some kind of linen gown, 
but even then he had on his military boots. Once in the 
year, and once only, he discarded the boots, and appeared in 
silk stockings : it was when he went to his wife's court to 
congratulate her upon her birthday. 

As soon as he was dressed his letters were brought to 
him by a page, and he examined them with the greatest 
care to discover if the seals had been broken or not ; acting 

^ Preuss gives another description of Frederick's day. It differs 
slightly in some details^ but seems to refer to a later period. 


11th May l742-27th June 174S. 

thus as a check upon his secretaries. All post-masters were 
obliged to send the king a list of any letters for him which 
passed through their hands, with the address of each 
person who wrote them ; no one being allowed to write to 
the king without leaving their addresses with the post- 
master to whom they delivered the letters. Frederick 
doubled the sheet of paper according as he decided to 
answer favourably, to refuse or to reserve the letter for 
future consideration. About eight o'clock, one of his four 
secretaries entered, and, while the king breakfasted, read in 
a few words the gist of each letter, Frederick dictating 
the nucleus of an answer. If the wi-iter was a woman he 
never failed to say, " It is a woman, you must write cour- 
teously to her." His private letters he kept to himself. 
All the secretaries were then employed until four o'clock 
in writing the answers, no clerks being employed. Though 
Frederick had not time to read all the answers, he picked 
out a few at random, and read them as a check upon the 
accuracy of his secretaries. These secretaries were little 
less than slaves to duty. They were almost always un- 
married, for Frederick would not trust married men to 
keep secrets from their wives. When offering Counsellor 
MUller, who was married, a place of secretary, he said : 
" You will never forget that, for the good of my service, 
,you must neither have family, nor relations, nor friends." 
Frederick was perfectly indifferent as to the form in which 
he was addressed, or to any apparent want of respect for 
his person ; but it came to be known that any one who 
wrote to him had better complete what he had to say on 
one side of a sheet of paper, otherwise his letter was sure 
to be ill-received. 

At nine o'clock, when the secretaries had been dismissed 
to their task, it was the turn of the first aide-de-camp, with 


]lth May 1742-27th June 1743. 

whom Frederick arranged all his military business for the 
day. From ten till twelve the king either attended military 
exercises or devoted himself to literary work, music, or 
private correspondence, and between ten and twelve he 
gave audience to individuals who wished to see him. Nor 
was this a mere matter of form, for during this interval of 
peace after the conquest of Silesia, the king proclaimed 
that he was ready to see on business any of his people who 
might desire an interview with him. 

At twelve o'clock precisely the king dined, with guests 
whom he had invited never earlier than ten o'clock the 
same morning. He ate with much appetite, and had a set 
of cooks of different nations, who had each to dress the 
dishes of their own countries. The only special tastes of 
the king were for much pepper and spices and good fruit, 
of which he ate largely. His favourite wine was cham- 
pagne. He was always gay at table, and full of repartee. 
After dinner Frederick generally walked, and so fast that 
his attendants could hardly keep pace with him. After 
signing his letters at four o'clock, he did whatever business 
was required with regard to the academy, to the schools of 
the country, and generally to subjects of art and literature. 
At six o'clock he had a concert, in which he himself per- 
formed on his favourite instrument ; nor did he cease this 
diversion till very late in life, when his teeth were all gone , 
and he could not produce the notes he desired. The concert 
lasted an hour, after which there was bright conversation 
till supper at ten o'clock. This meal was given up during 
the Seven Years' War, Frederick's digestion being no doubt 
impaired by the hardships of the campaigns. By eleven 
o'clock, at latest, the king was in bed. 

Such were the habits of this remarkable man, of whom 
his worst enemies have never said that he failed in devo- 


11th May 1742-27th June 1743. 

tion to business and hard work for the good of the Prussian 
crown and country. It was a life for the most part of 
severe self-denial; and no one who studies his character 
with care can fail to be convinced that Frederick loved 
peace rather than war and truth more than diplomacy. 
His early desire for glory was natural enough in so young 
a man; but it soon disappeared, and if his policy was 
tortuous it was because no straight path could possibly be 
pursued among the intricacies of facts and the craft of 
other courts. 

The court of Berlin became at this time the centre 
of European diplomacies. England was trying to draw 
Frederick into a war against France ; France was equally 
busy in pressing for his alliance against England and 
Austria. Frederick desired, in the first place, a peace 
which should leave him in possession of Silesia, but if that 
were not to be had, then such a balance in the war as 
should weaken both sides by degrees and prevent either 
of them from having force to spare for the attack of 
Prussia. He refused to join France, and endeavoured,, 
without success, to deter England from meddling with her 
troops. He also conceived a project of forming an associ- 
ation of the circles of the Reich in order to form a neutral 
army, but the small states shivered with terror and could 
• not be got to move. To strengthen his diplomatic game he 
strongly fortified Glogau, Brieg, Neisse, Glatz, and Cosel, 
and increased his army by 18,000 men. As Voltaire said 
of him, " Princes nowadays ruin themselves by war, 
Frederick enriched himself by it." 

While Frederick was thus strengthening himself, the 
war con tin led with great advantage to the Austrians. 
The old and semi-paralysed Broglio was shut up in Prague, 
where he insisted on retainipg the command, though Belle- 


27th June 1743-5th June 1744. 

Isle was the life of the defence. The greater part of the 
French upper army had been wasted, and was now be- 
sieged, and Maillebois, with the lower army, was ordered 
to advance to the assistance of the garrison of Prague. It 
is true that his movement caused the temporary raising of 
the siege, but he obtained no footing in Bohemia, and, 
falling back, became inactive in Bavaria. Broglio made 
use of the opportunity to escape from Prague with a 
portion of the garrison, and took the command out of the 
hand of Maillebois. An Anglo-Hanoverian force joined the 
Austrians on the Rhine, and gave Maria Theresa a distinct 
superiority in those quarters, and on the 27th of June, 
1743, was fought the battle of Dettingen, which was as 
honourable to the regimental officers and rank and file of 
the English army as it was absurd in the muddle made 
by the commanders. English-Hanoverians and Austrians 
together were somewhat more than 40,000 strong, all paid 
by England, which was at this time pouring out its trea- 
sure with a freedom and for a cause now rather astonishing. 
But for English money the war would have collapsed long 
before. The French marshal, Noailles, with about 58,000 
men, had completely out-manoeuvred the English commander, 
if indeed that may be called a mano&uvre which consists in 
one side sitting still and becoming surrounded, with its 
communications cut and a river to be crossed in face of the 
enemy before the army can get its breakfast. The fine old 
quality of British doggedness saved at Dettingen, as it has 
often done before and since, the military honour which the 
generals had compromised. George II. himself was in 
command, and spent a considerable proportion of the time 
during which the battle raged standihg in front of his 
Hanoverian troops in the preposterous position of a fencing 
master. He and Lord Stair had brought the army into its 


27th June 1743-5th June 1744. 

trouble, and the king's only idea now was to stand in a 
defiant attitude and let the troops pull themselves out of 
the difficulty as they best could. By sheer bull-dog courage 
the English portion of the force found its way over the 
bridges, and did in fact get its breakfast without at all 
knowing that it had done anything heroic. Prague had 
fallen on the 17th of December, 1742, Marshal Belle-Isle 
having made a brilliant retreat out of the town with the 
small remnant of the original French upper army. Thus, 
everywhere, Austria was successful, and Frederick had 
reason to fear for himself unless the tide of conquest 
could be stayed. He explains in the Histoire de Mon Temps 
that he feared lest France should abandon the cause of the 
emperor, which would mean that the Austrians, who now 
boldly spoke of compensation for the war, would turn their 
arms against himself. Frederick knew that when Maria 
Theresa, now at peace with him, had complained to 
George II. of the cession of Silesia made by the advice 
of England, George had replied in words which distinctly 
pointed to a retrocession of the province : " Madame, ce 
qui est bon k prendre est bon ^ rendre." He learnt also 
that England and Austria intended to force a peace upon 
France, leaving Silesia to the tender mercies of Austria, 
and that Saxony, at this time or later, joined these 

He now saw that he would be again obliged to step into 
the arena, and in the latter part of 1743 he sent Count 
Kothenburg to the court of Versailles. Voltaire had 
shortly before paid him a visit at Berlin, hoping to draw 
him into an alliance with France. Frederick was very 
friendly, but it must be confessed rather *' chaffed him " 
when he tried to diplomatise. All that Voltaire said, he 
had taken into account already, and when the brilliant 


27th June 1743-5th June 1744. 

writer sent him in one day a paper gravely pressing upon 
him the danger which thj^eatened him from Austria, 
Frederick wrote in the margin — 


On les y recevra, Biribi, 

A la fa^on de Barbari, mon ami I 

But Eothenburg's message was serious, and France was 
trembling, not for her conquests, but for her own terri- 
tory. After the battle of Dettingen the victorious Anglo- 
Hanoverian force was to cross the Khine above Mayence, 
and march into Alsace, while Prince Charles of Lorraine, 
with a strong Austrian army, was to pass near Basle and 
occupy Lorraine, taking up his winter quarters in Bur- 
gundy and Champagne. The English crossed without 
any check and moved on to Worms, but the Austrians 
failed in their attempt. Worms became a centre of 
intrigue, which Frederick afterwards called " Cette abyme 
de mauvaise foi." The Dutch were persuaded by Lord 
Carteret to join the English, and they did at last send 
14,000 men, who were never of the least use. Lord 
Carteret also detached Charles Emanuel, King of Sardinia, 
from his French leanings, and persuaded him to enter into 
the Austro-English alliance. It was clear that action 
could not be long postponed, and Frederick began to 
recognise the necessity of a new war. 

His first anxiety was to guard himself against inter- 
ference from his northern and eastern neighbours. He 
secured, as he hoped, the neutrality of Russia by marrying 
the young princess of Anhalt-Zerbst, afterwards the noto- 
rious Empress Catherine, with the Grand-Duke Peter of 
Bussia, nephew and heir to the reigning Empress 
Elisabeth. The princess had been brought up in Prussia, 


5th June-March 1744. 
and her father was a Prussian field-marshal, while her 
mother was the sister of the heir-apparent of Sweden. 
A second strengthening marriage was made, namely, that 
of the Princess Ulrica, Frederick's sister, to the same 
heir-apparent of Sweden. Thus strengthened, as he 
hoped, in his rear and flank, and having made the com- 
mencement of a German league called the "Union of 
Frankfurt," by which Hesse and the Palatinate agreed to 
join Frederick and the Kaiser, he concluded on the 6th of 
June, 1744, a treaty which brought France also into this alli- 
ance. It was secretly agreed that Frederick was to invade 
Bohemia, conquer it for the Kaiser, and have the districts 
of Koniggratz, Bunzlau, and Leitmeritz to repay him for 
his trouble and costs ; while France, which was all this 
time at war with Austria and England, should send an 
army against Prince Charles and the English. In March, 
1744, England had narrowly escaped invasion, and readers 
of the present day will do well to consider that less than 
a hundred and forty years ago an army of 15,000 men, 
under the Count de Saxe, was considered a sufficient force 
for the purpose of seating Charles Edward upon the English 
throne. There was absolutely no defensive force in the 
kingdom. The invasion was prevented, not by any action 
of the English fleet, but by a storm, which dashed the 
whole flotilla to pieces, steam not having been invented in 
those days. Let us also remark with thankfulness that 
after the collapse of the invasion there was a general 
press for recruiting the army and the fleet, at which time 
a thousand men were taken out of the gaols of London 
and Westminster alone, to say nothing of other gaols in 
the country, and sent to serve the king, with pay of 
sixpence a day. 

The first stroke of the coming war in Germany was 


March- Aug. 1744. 

delivered by France. Louis XY. sent a large army into 
the Netherlands, under two good leaders, Noailles and 
Maurice de Saxe. Urged by his mistress, the Duchesse de 
Chateauroux, he joined it himself early, and took the 
nominal command early in June, carrying with him the 
duchess and an immense train, which included even a 
theatrical company. The towns rapidly fell before him, 
and Marshal Wade, with the Anglo-Dutch-Hanoverian 
army, sat still and looked at the success of the French. 
But on the night of the 30th June-lst July, Prince Charles 
crossed the Rhine by an operation which is worth the 
study of military students, and invaded Alsace, the French 
army of observation falling back before him. Louis XV. 
hurried back to interpose between the Austrians and Paris, 
and reached Metz on the 4th of August, where he was 
stricken with a dangerous illness, and all France was 
plunged into grief and prayers for the " well-beloved king," 
who was afterwards to be such a curse to the nation. 
Maurice de Saxe was left in the Netherlands with 45,000 
men. Thus the French army was paralysed, and the 
Austrian army in its turn was actually invading France. 
At this time Frederick struck in. He sent word to the 
king that though all the terms of their arrangement had 
not yet been fulfilled, he would at once invade Bohemia, 
and deliver a stroke against Prague which would certainly 
cause the retreat of Prince Charles with his 70,000 men. 
If the French army would follow Prince Charles in his 
retreat, Frederick would attack him, and between France 
and Prussia the Austrian army would certainly be crushed, 
and Vienna be at their mercy. This was no doubt an 
excellent plan of campaign, but, like the previous operations 
concerted with Broglio, it depended for success upon the 
good faith of the French, and this turned out to be a 


7th Aug.-16th Sept. 1744. 

broken reed. On the 7th of August the Prussian ambas- 
sador at Yienna gave notice of the Union of Frankfurt, 
and withdrew from the court of Austria ; and on the 15th 
the Prussian army was put in march upon Prague. 

Frederick's forces moved in three columns, the total 
strength being over 80,000 ; two columns marched through 
Saxony, one on either side of the Elbe. Frederick com- 
manded that on the south side, the younger Leopold that 
on the north. The third column under Schwerin marched 
from Silesia by Glatz. Besides these three columns there 
was another force of 20,000, which remained in Silesia; 
destined, if necessary, to create a diversion by threatening 
Olmiitz. Frederick, anxious not to break with Saxony, did 
not occupy Dresden, though his flotilla with siege train and 
provision for three months passed up the Elbe. Maria Theresa 
was now again in great danger, but as usual retained her high . 
courage, and once more called forth the enthusiasm of her 
Hungarian subjects, who sent swarms of wild troops, horse 
and foot, to the seat of war. Frederick's march was 
unchecked, but his flotilla of 480 boats hung for ten 
days, delayed by obstructions which the Austrians placed 
in the Elbe at Tetschen, on the Saxon frontier, where 
the river, and now the railway, thread their way through 
the craggy precipices known as the Saxon Switzerland. 
On the 1st of September the three columns met before 
Prague, which had better defences than in the last 
campaign, and a garrison of some 16,000 men, 4,000 of 
whom were regulars and the rest militia, Hungarian and 
otherwise. The siege artillery came up on the 8th of 
September, and during the night of the 9th the bombard- 
ment commenced ; an important redoubt on Ziscaberg was 
captured on the 12th, and on the 16th the garrison sur- 
rendered. Thus, one month after the commencement of 


Ifith «ept -23rd Oct. 1744. 

tke march Prague was captured, and the campaign opened 
by a brilliant feat of arms. 

In later years Frederick's opinion was, that he ought 
now to have strengthened himself in the part of the country 
which he had won, seizing magazines which Bathyani 
had established in those parts, and watching events ready 
to strike in at the right moment. His own plan at the 
time was to move south-west, beat Bathyani and capture 
his magazines; then move to meet Prince Charles on his 
way through the passes of the Bohemian mountains. 
Belle-Isle advised another course of action, which the king, 
paying too much respect for Belle-Isle's ability, adopted, 
contrary to his own opinion. Leaving a small garrison in 
Prague, he moved to Budweis and Neuhaus, thus threat- 
ening Austria, but leaving his own flank and communica- 
tions exposed to attack. His heavy artillery was left in 
Prague. The result was that Bathiyani with his irregulars, 
not having been destroyed, hung in crowds upon the com- 
munications of the Prussians, who were soon shut out 
from knowledge of what was passing outside the army, and 
could not even get their messengers through with despatches. 
The French, whose army should have been thundering in 
rear of Prince Charles, dropped the pursuit entirely, and 
turned away towards the Upper Bhine about the Lake of 
Constance. Frederick had saved them at a critical moment ; 
with cynical indifference they left him to perish, just as 
they had on another occasion declared to Maria Theresa 
that if she would make a satisfactory peace with France, 
she might do what she would with the Prussians. King 
Louis himself returned to Paris without the duchess, whom 
he sent away when he was ill, to please the priests, but 
took back again as soon as he was well ; and who died, it is 
said, by poison immediately afterwards. Seckendorf, the 


23rd Oct. -19th Nov. 1741 - 

enemy of Frederick's youth, had 30,000 men in the 
Palatinate as part of the Kaiser's army, but he also de- 
serted the King of Prussia, and turned his attention to 
re-conquering Bavaria. Munich was indeed saved, and the 
Kaiser returned there on the 23rd of October. 

Meanwhile, Prince Charles, being unmolested, crossed 
from the upper Palatinate into Bohemia and the circle of 
Pilieu, and united with Bathyani. The Saxons sent a con- 
tingent of 20,000 men, under Weissenfels, across the Metal 
Mountains by Eger and Carlsbad. This Was the news 
which Frederick received from some of the first couriers 
who succeeded in breaking through the veil of darkness 
and reaching the Prussian army. The king had blundered, 
and was now paying for it. Prince Charles, or rather 
Field-Marshal Traun, who advised him, cut in between the 
Prussians and Prague, separating Frederick from his 
magazines, and eating up the country so as to destroy him 
by want and famine. Frederick tried to bring them to a 
decisive battle, but they avoided it, and manoeuvred so as 
to oblige him to move rapidly and exhaust his army with- 
out being able to feed it properly. He himself says he 
learnt much by the skilful manoeuvring of Marshal Traun 
in this campaign. On the 17th of October the French sent a 
letter to say that when their siege of Freyburg was finished 
they proposed to send a force to Westphalia, as if that 
would help Frederick much. At the beginning of November 
the Austrian manoeuvres issued in a descent upon Pardu- 
bitz, and Frederick found that he must choose between 
giving up Prague and his retreat that way through hostile 
Saxony, or his much more important communications with 
Silesia. He decided, at any rate, to defend Pardubitz and 
the Elbe; but on the 19th of November the Austrians and 
Saxons succeeded in crossing at Teinitz, ten miles east of 


19th Nov. 1744-Jan. 1745. 

Kolin, whereupon the king saw that the game was i:p> and 
retreated on Silesia in two main cohimns, one under his 
own command by Nachod, the other under the younger 
Leopold by Glatz. The garrison of Prague under Einsiedel 
evacuated the place, and succeeded, with considerable loss, 
in making its way also into Silesia. Frederick wrote of this 
campaign afterwards : " No general committed more faults 
than did the king in this campaign. The conduct of M. de 
Traun is a model of perfection which every soldier who 
loves his business ought to study and try to imitate, if he 
have the talent. The king has himself admitted that he 
regarded this campaign as his school in the art of war, and 
M. de Traun as his teacher. Bad is often better for princes 
than good ; and instead of intoxicating themselves with 
presumption, renders them circumspect and modest." 

Immediately after the close of this abortive campaign, 
Frederick returned to Berlin. Both armies intended to go 
into winter quarters, but the fiery Maria Theresa insisted 
upon an invasion of Silesia ; and Marshal Traun did at last 
push into Upper Silesia and the county of Glatz, but was 
driven out again in January by the elder Leopold. His 
letreat into Moravia over the snow-clad hills was not 
effected without much loss from privations. Swarms of 
irregular troops were also driven from Silesia, Prince 
Charles was not present in these affairs. News had reached 
him that his much-loved wife had died, after giving birth 
to a still-born infant. The marriage had been one of love, 
and such glory as his manoeuvres had earned for him, 
brought him little comfort in the presence of that human 
sorrow which strikes an equal blow against prince or 

H 2 



A.D. 1745. 


Once more Frederick was back at Berlin after the unlucky 
campaign, preparing with high courage and energy for the 
fortunes of the coming season. Blow after blow now 
fell upon him. Belle- Isle, the Prosper© of the storm, the 
one Frenchman in whom Frederick believed, was captured 
on the 20th of December, while passing through an outlying 
part of Hanover, and sent a prisoner to England. The 
unfortunate Kaiser Karl VII., an Imperator without com- 
mand of armies, without power over his empire, aud almost 
without an income, sank at last under an accumulated load 
of anxiety, misery, and disease, and died on the 20th 
January, 1745, in his forty-eighth year. His last advice 
to his family has been recorded in two opposite senses. 
One account says that he advised them to eschew ambition 
and make friends with Austria ; another relates that he 
enjoined upon them never to repay with ingratitude the 
services of France and Prussia. But what were they to 
do 1 There was now no Kaiser to lend even a name to the 
cause of France and of Belle-Isle, whose hand no longer 


Jan. -May 1745. 

directed the gusts of opinion in the German courts. The 
King of Prussia saw plainly the course likely to be taken 
by events, and offered peace through England. But 
George II. was lukewarm in that sense, and did little or 
nothing. The Saxons, who were only bound to assist 
Austria in case of invasion, seemed likely to join in the 
work of aggression. To crown all, money was running 
short, so that the king actually had some of the silver 
furniture of his palace at Potsdam sent to the Mint ready 
for melting. On the 22nd April the Bavarian question 
"was solved by the peace at Fiissen, by which Austria 
relinquished her hold on that country in return for an 
alliance with it and general good-will. And at the same 
time there was being negotiated an arrangement, afterwards, 
the 18th of May, shaped into a treaty, by which the Dutch 
and the English, dragged at the tail of Hanover, agreed 
with Austria and Saxony to partition Prussia ; the good" 
natured Sea Powers acting of course once more as milch 
cows. Nay more, England, diligently building up the 
national debt, was helping to bribe the Czarina Elisabeth 
to act against Prussia in consideration of the gift of two 
millions " for her pleasures." 

Such was the state of public affairs when Frederick 
joined his army at Neisse in the latter part of March, 
and found it suffering from a putrid fever. Old Leopold — 
rugged, tender-hearted ancient of nearly seventy — had lost 
the worship of his youth, the brave companion of his 
campaigns, the apothecary's daughter whom he had married 
for love some fifty years ago, and raised to work beside 
him as a princess of the Beich. The sorrowful old man 
craved leave to go home, and Frederick took his place in 
command of the army. In May old Leopold was placed 
in command of a camp of observation on the frontier of 


April-May 1745. 

Saxony. Valor i, the Frencli ambassador, reported of 
Frederick at this time that he was graver than of old ; 
changed for the better he thought, mild, humane, and 
modest. But the king's letters from Neisse to his minister 
Podewils ring like a trumpet-call. *'I will maintain my 
power, or it may go to ruin, and the Prussian name be 
buried under it." "Learn from a man who does not go to 
Eisner's preaching, that one must oppose to ill-fortune a 
brow of iron ; and, during this life, renounce all happiness, 
all acquisitions, possessions and lying shows, none of which 
will follow us beyond the grave." High words indeed, but 
made good by high deeds. In April he prepared for the 
worst by arranging a retreat for his wife and his mother 
in case Berlin should be attacked, and in May he drew in 
his posts and detachments even from the Jiigerndorf country, 
which he left partly a prey to the Austrian irregulars, who, 
though soundly beaten near Jiigerndorf by the Margrave 
Charles of Schwedt, one of the Brandenburg family, and 
by Colonel "Winterfeld at Landshut, seriously annoyed the 
Prussians and veiled the movements of the Austrians. In 
the Jagerndorf action, the cavalry which had been re- 
created in organisation and drill by Frederick, first showed 
on a large scale the results of his laboirrs. Ziethen with 500 
hussars carried, through swarms of irregulars, Frederick's 
order for the margrave to join him; and next day the 12,000 
Prussians cut their way through a mass of 20,000 oppo- 
nents, destroying the regular troops, and putting to flight 
the irregulars with much loss. Thus the margrave and 
Winterfeld joined the king, who moved his head-quarters 
to Schweidnitz. His army was then 70,000 strong. Prince 
Charles, who had rejoined the Austro-Saxon army, was 
coming on over the mountains, moving from Landshut on 
the last day of May. 


May-3rd Jane 1745. 

While tlie fate of Silesia hung in the balance, there 
occurred on the 11th of May one of those battles well 
known in English history, wherein English troops, led 
without judgment, but with infinite courage, covered them- 
selves with glory, but lost the day. The battle of Fontenoy 
does not come within the fair limits of Frederick's battles, 
and it must suffice to say that a mixed army — English, 
Dutch, and Austrians, under the Duke of Cumberland, 
attacked the French in a strong position, when attack was 
the worst possible strategy, penetrated — at least the English 
column penetrated — right through the centre of the French 
army, and for want of tactical leading were completely 
defeated. The attack of the English infantry was much 
like that of the light cavalry at Balaklava — magnificent, 
but not war. 

In the first days of May the Prussian army lay extended 
from Schweidnitz to Jauernik ; Prince Charles and the 
Saxons coming on by Reichenau and Freyburg. " Why do 
you not defend the mountain passes ? " asked Valori. 
" Because," replied the king, ''if we want to catch a 
mouse, we leave the mouse-trap open." This is the answer 
to all advocates of a mountain barrier held on the far side. 
Good, if you are weak, and wish to keep out or delay 
the enemy. Bad, if you are strong and mean to fight him. 
Frederick meant to kill his mouse, and baited his trap by 
causing Prince Charles, who had no Marshal Traun with 
him now, to believe that his great fear was lest the Austrian 
army should push between him and Breslau. 

On the 3rd of June Frederick, who hourly swept the hills 
with his telescope, first saw that cloud of dust which usually 
heralds the approach of an army. All that afternoon the 
allies streamed down from the hills, the Prussians lying hid, 
or showing only weak and deceptive parties of hussars. The 


4th June 1745. 

Saxons pushed on that night to Pilgrimshayn with outposts 
nearly at Striegau, the Austrians in the right rear of the 
Saxons reached to Rohnstock and Hausdorf, where they 
bivouacked. Thus the Austrian position was clearly seen, 
while Prince Charles did not even know that the 
Prussian army was present in strength. During the night 
the king moved his whole force. Du Moulin on his right 
was ordered to take the hills in front of Striegau during 
the evening, which he partly did, dislodging the Saxon 
outposts. The rest of the army defiled silently through the 
night across the bridge at Striegau ; but the rear was 
delayed for some time by the breaking of the bridge, so that 
the left of the king's army was late in arriving on the 
ground. The Austrian leaders saw the movement of Du 
Moulin, but took his column of 10,000 or 12,000 men for 
the main Prussian force, or at most for the rear-guard of an 
army retiring on Breslau. 

In the early morning the Duke of "Weissenfels, with his 
Saxons, commenced his attack on the hills which cover 
Striegau. Du Moulin hurried up a battery of six twenty- 
four-pounders to the further slopes of the Spitzberg, 
otherwise called Mount Topaz, in front of the village, then 
attacked the Saxons, who were shaken by the fire of the 
guns, and threw them back much shattered. Their cavalry 
failed to restore the fortune of the fight, and were defeated 
by the Prussian cavalry of the right wing, which came 
across during the night and joined Du Moulin at daybreak. 
Prince Charles was awakened by the sound of the firing, 
but believed it came from the Saxons capturing Striegau ; 
nor was he undeceived till fugitives began to come in, 
telling of the disaster which had befallen his advanced 
guard. The Austrians were brought quickly into line as 
they had bivouacked, and might have taken advantage of 


4th June 1745. 

the delay caused to the Prussians by the broken bridge. 
There was also a gap in the Prussian left centre, caused by 
a wheel up of the right wing against the Saxons. But with 
typical Austrian unreadiness, no use was made of the 
chance, and the destruction of what was now the left of the 
allies exposed the flank of Prince Charles. Ziethen, with 
the Prussian cavalry of the left wing, crossed by a ford, and 
the rest of the army came swiftly into position, pressing the 
Austrian line in front. Threatened in left flank, and over- 
matched in front, it gave way, and hardly needed the 
'dashing charge of Gessler's Bareuth dragoons, who passed 
through the gap in the line and threw themselves with 
splendid impetuosity into the rnidst of the shaken 
Austrians. Beaten at every point, the army, which 
yesterday had come down from the mountains with banners 
displayed and military music, was thrown back into the 
defiles by eight o'clock in the morning, and would have 
been destroyed by a thorough pursuit. At this time, 
however, Frederick had not learnt to appreciate the golden 
rule that a beaten enemy should be pressed at every 
sacrifice. His troops were fatigued by the night march, 
and he failed to gather the full fruits of victory. Under 
cover of their guns, the Austrians retired slowly, and were 
only pursued to the foot of the mountains, a little beyond * 
Pohnstock and Hausdorf . Thus the mouse, after entering 
the trap, was allowed to escape, though with loss of skin 
and fur. The Austrians left on the field 9,000 killed and 
wounded, 7,000 prisoners, 66 cannon, 73 flags and stan- 
dards. The Prussians lost 5,000 killed and wounded, and 
rested on the field of battle. The steadiness of their night 
inarch and wheelings during the action had been wonderful, 
and the cavalry showed that the pains which the king had 
taken to improve them had not been thrown away. 


20th July-Sept, 1745. 

Next day began a slow pui'suit till the Austrians found a 
position at Koniggratz, whence Frederick could not drive 
them. From about the end of June till the 20th of July 
there were various manosuvres, all caused by the want of 
rapid pursuit at fii'st, and on that day Frederick formed a 
camp at Chlum with intention to eat up the country and 
prevent its becoming a good base for a new invasion. The 
king was himself suffering from want of money and applied 
to Louis XY. for help, without which he could not remain 
in activity with his army. Louis offered him a miserable 
dole — some £20,000 per month — which Frederick refused,' 
and was very bitter as to the battle of Fontenoy and the 
capture cf Tournay, which he said were of no more use to 
him than victories at Pekin or the Scamander. On the 
26th of August the Convention of Hanover was signed by 
George IT., who, anxious for his throne at home then 
threatened by the Pretender, agreed to the terms which 
Frederick was always willing to accept, namely, the secure 
possession of Silesia. There was no Kaiser to fight for now, and 
indeed, on the 13th of September, the Grand Duke Franz, 
Maria Theresa's husband, was elected, even Bavaria voting 
for him. Anxious as he now was for peace, Frederick was 
aware of signs that the Saxons had designs against him, 
and he strengthened old Leopold, who, in the camp of 
Striegau, watched the frontier with eyes longing for one 
more fray before the sword should fall from his old and 
wearied hand for ever. But his time had not yet come. 

The Prussian army on the Elbe was greatly annoyed by 
the Austrian and Hungarian light troops, chiefly furnished 
by the Hungarian " insurrections." Little subsistence 
was to be derived from the country, and the communica- 
tions with Silesia were difficult to be maintained. In the 
early part of September the left wing of the camp was at 


Sept. 1745. 

Jaromirz, the main body on the other side of the Elbe with 
bridges between them, one line of supply was by Neustadt 
and Glatz, the other nearly due north by the Schatzlar pass. 
Neustadt was strongly attacked by the Austrians, and even 
bombarded by heavy artillery. The defence was successful, 
but the place was finally abandoned on the 16th of Septem- 
ber, for want of water. There remained, therefore, only one 
line of communication through the Schatzlar country, which 
was so infested by the Austrian light troops, that no convoy 
could come through without a strong force to defend it. 
Frederick now determined to retire slowly into Silesia, and 
moved on the 18th of September ; passing to the eastward of 
the KonigreichWaldjhe encamped at Staudenz, and lay there 
for some time, carrying out his intention of consuming the 
supplies of the country. He intended to move further 
northwards on the 30th of September, but on the 29th 
learned from deserters and by a reconnaissance that the 
whole Austrian army was moving up the Elbe, and that 
its advance-guard had already arrived at Arnau, nearer to 
Schatzlar than he himself was. The rear of the Austrians 
was at Kbnigshof, now known as Koniginhof, the scene of 
one of the actions afterwards fought in 1866. The king 
now ordered that the whole army should march northward 
at ten o'clock next morning, but during the night the 
Austrians, covered by a crowd of light troops, took ground 
to their right, and lay near Sohr, with outposts close to 
the Prussian camp. Evidently the Prussian outpost work 
was not well done, whatever their discipline might be. The 
camp was about two miles long, facing southwards, protected 
on its left and left front by a rough country, with defiles 
and brooks and a ravine close by, and running all along 
the front of the camp. The weak point was a hill towards 
the right, near enough to be of advantage to an enemy, yet; 


SOth Sept. 1745. 

not close enough to be brought within the compass of the 
camp. The king's force was only about 18,000 men. In 
the early morning a message came, in from the vedettes 
posted on the hill to the right, to the intent that the whole 
Austrian army was advancing close by, raising huge clouds 
of dust as tliey came on. This was clearly a surprise, and 
shows that the Prussian arrangements must have been 
faulty. But the military instinct of the king came in to 
the rescue. After a short survey from the hill, Frederick 
decided upon his plan of action. To retreat woijld expose 
him to be destroyed in the hills, to stand still was to wait 
for destruction. He decided to attack. Already the Aus- 
trians had occupied the hill ; and placed there a battery of 
twenty-eight guns. The Prussians came into line to their 
right with admirable steadiness, under the fire of the 
Austrian artillery, but, being little more than half as 
strong as Prince Charles's army, could only for the most 
part form one line instead«of two. We now see the germ 
of the tactics so often associated with Frederick's name ; he 
refused his left wing as much as possible, and ordered 
Buddenbrock with the tavalry on the right, supported by 
the right wing of the infantry, to attack the Austrian left. 
The Austrian cavalry were completely defeated, and driven 
back into the hollow Georgengrund, whence they did not 
emerge for the rest of the day. The infantry right wing 
attacked the hill, failed at. first, but succeeded when sup- 
ported by the whole of the reserve, namely three regiments. 
Ten guns were captured, and the Austrian left completely 
broken. The reserve, however, attacked Burgersdorf, but 
were repulsed by the Prussians, who set the village on fire 
as a screen. Gradually from right to left the Prussians 
pushed forward, and now the victorious Buddenbrock 
joined the cavalry on the left, and attacked the Austrian 


80th Sept. 1745. 

right near Prausnitz, thus rolling up that wing of the 
enemy which had not yet suffered. The whole of the 
Austrian army then fell back in confusion into the 
Kdnigreich Wald. Tlieir strength was about 34,000 at the 
beginning of the battle, against 18,000, and they were 
totally defeated, the last cavalry charge alone captiu-ing 
2,000 prisoners of them. 

But where were the light troops during all this time "i 
They were intended to attack the Prussians in rear, and 
they carried out their instructions to the letter by attack- 
ing and* pillaging the Prussian camp, but they broke the 
orders in the spirit, for they did not attack the Prussian 
army. They did their pillaging work well, and with great 
cruelty. The camp was gutted, 'the Prussian sick, and even 
€ome women, burnt alive. All the king's camp furniture 
was taken, and it was difficult to procure for him even a 
slice of bread after the battle. 

Without doubt Frederick's ajmy was caught napping on 
this occasion, and ought to have been defeated. The* 
Austrian plan was good, but there was not sufficient vigour 
in execution. If the Austrian gavalry on the left had 
charged the Prussians vigorously down hill while they were 
changing their formation under the fire of the big battery, 
it is probable that success would have been achieved. But 
the national characteristic is to make good plans, but to 
fail in energy of execution. The Prussian king, on the 
contrary, was surprised, but took the initiative with great 
rapidity and daring, not even hesitating to send his cavalry 
charging up hill. This was a great risk, but as the least 
of many risks was one of those inspirations which flash 
across the minds of great generals. The Austrians acted 
according to their character, Frederick according to his; 
and we shall see in his future battles the same military 


30th Sept-eth Nov. 1745. 

inspirpvtion bringing him out of great perils, sometimes 
caused by his own fault. 

The Convention of Hanover had detached England from 
the alliance against Prussia, and Frederick might well 
suppose that after the battle of Sohr he might count at 
least upon rest, and probably upon peace. He returned to 
Berlin to superintend the measu«"es of diplomacy, leaving 
the younger Leopold in charge of the army, which, from 
want of provisions, was constrained to retire into Silesia. 
The elder Leopold still commanded the force which was 
watching Saxony. But peace was not to be yet. Not 
Maria Theresa this time, but Count Briihl, the Saxon 
minister, was now the moving spirit in the combination 
against Frederick. Field IMarshal Griine with 10,000 men 
was called up from the Austrian army of the Rhine to 
Saxony. The plan was that Prince Charles, instead of 
going into winter quarters as expected, should march north- 
wards to Gorlitz and Guben, so as to turn Frederick's 
Silesian army and cut it oif from Prussia ; while the Saxon 
army under Rutowski, combined with Griine's detachment, 
should make a sudden attack upon old Leopold, beat him, and 
move straight on Berlin. This plan was excellent, but clearly 
required silence as one of the chief constituents to success. 
Briihl could not hold his tongue, and one day at dinner told 
the story to Wolfstierna, the Swedish envoy at Dresden, 
and to Rudenskjold, the Swedish envoy at Berlin, who was 
on a visit to Dresden. Since the marriage of the Princess 
Ulrica the Swedes were friendly to Frederick. Rudenskjold 
went straight to Berlin, and on the 8th of . November 
laid the whole scheme before the king. Frederick's coun- 
sellors refused to believe it, but he acted on his own 
counsel. He directed old Leopold to prepare at once for 
marching, and when the old warrior, with that mingled 


15th-23rd Nov 1745. 

over-caution and easy sloth whicli come with declining 
years, argued against the king's plans, Frederick cut him 
short with the sharp answer, "When your highness has 
armies of your own, you will order them according to your 
mind ; at present, it must be according to mine." So old 
Leopold got ready, and his son in Silesia drew the army 
there towards the Silesian-Lusatian border in the direction 
of Prince Charles. On the 15th of November Frederick was 
off to Liegnitz, and on the 1 8th took the command of the 
force, now numbering 35,000 men, and lying at Nieder- 
Adelsdorf, about forty miles from the line of Prince 
Charles's march. His object was to conceal his presence, 
and to that end he allowed every one who chose to pass 
within his line of outposts, but none to pass out again. 
Winterfeld, with 3,000 light troops, kept the line of the 
Queiss river, Frederick himself that of the Bober. Prince 
Charles was completely deceived, and knew nothing of 
Frederick's presence. On the 20th of November his army 
entered Lusatia, the Saxon contingent leading, and en- 
camped in the neighbourhood of Schonberg, between the 
Neisse and the Queiss ; his strength was about 40,000. 
Winterfeld reported his presence, and the king at once 
ordered a pontoon bridge to be constructed near Naumburg, 
which, with a bridge already there and two fords, would 
give four crossing places for his army. On the 21st 
Frederick left the Bober, arrived at Naumburg on the 
23rd, and crossed the river in four hours; Ziethen with 
the cavalry clearing the front of the army from Austrian 
cavalry and light troops. Ziethen pushed on through a 
heavy mist, actually led by the retiring enemy, with whom 
he kept touch into the village of Hennersdorf, where he 
surprised the Saxons in the act of being paid by thft 
quartermaster. Other Prussian reinforcements were pushed 


Nov.-12th Dec. 1745. 

on at speed under great difficulties, struck the rallying 
Saxons and defeated them, taking 914 prisoners. Next 
day the Prussians were ready to attack again, but Prince 
Charles was in rapid retreat. At Gorlitz he made a 
demonstration of fighting, but again retired, leaving the 
place to capitulate ; the same at Zittau ; and so back to 
Bohemia, through the passes of Gabel to Aussig in 
Bohemia, whence, relinquishing his part of the combined 
plan, he moved down the Elbe to join his allies in Saxony. 
Frederick, with the main Prussian army, moved to Bautzen, 
going into cantonments there, and feeding his troops with 
the stores collected by the Austrians at Gorlitz and Guben 
for the army of Prince Charles. 

It was now the turn of old Leopold, whom the king 
ordered to advance at once. Griine, hearing of the afi'air 
at Hennersdorf, relinquished his designs upon Berlin, and 
joined the Saxon army under Butowski, which fell back 
from the frontier towards Dresden hoping to unite with 
Prince Charles. Every tiling now depended on speed. "Was 
the king to join Leopold, or Prince Charles to unite with 
Butowski ? Frederick urged Leopold to be speedy ; the 
old general took his time, stopping here and there to build 
ovens and bake bread. It was necessary to have a bridge 
over the Elbe for the two armies to combine. Leopold 
moved by Leipsig to Torgau, too far north. The king 
spurred him on to Meissen, opposite which Frederick placed 
an advanced guard under Lehwald. After spending three 
days at Torgau, old Leopold, in his quiet way, clinging to 
the old style of war, jogged on to Meissen, and arrived 
there on the 1 2th of December, Prince Charles being then 
through the Metal Mountains, advancing on Dresden. 
Meissen being seized, Lehwald, with the advanced guard, 
joined Leopold, and Frederick also marched to his help. 


Mth-25th Dec. 1745. 

(Jld Leopold moved from Meissen on the 13th towards 
Dresden, watching for Rutowski, and again on the 14th, 
still not finding him. At last, on the 15th, the Saxon army 
was seen strongly posted in a defensive position, which like 
most defensive positions, the resort of weak generals, had 
the disadvantage that it hampered the defenders and left 
all the initiative to the assailants. On the right was placed 
Griine with the Austrians, his front covered by a ravine 
through which ran the Tschone stream. To attack him 
would be difficult, almost impossible — but then he also could 
hardly attack. Thus he was for all practical purposes out 
of calculation for the battle, and the superiority in numbers 
possessed by the Saxons — 35,000 against 32,000 Prussians 
— was neutralised or worse. The same Tschone stream 
covered the whole front of the Saxon army, but was more 
passable at other points than in front of Griine. The left 
of the Saxons was at Kesseldorf, in front of which they 
had a battery of thirty guns well intrenched. This was 
the key of the position, and Leopold determined to make 
his main attack there, refusing his left, and extending his 
right to outflank the Saxons. Nothing could be simpler 
or clearer, and those who talk of defending England by 
occupying a series of defensive positions, will do well to 
lay to heart the lesson afforded by this battle of Kesseldorf. 

The nut was however a hard one to crack; and old 
Leopold, before attempting it, reverently bared his head 
and prayed, " Lord God, help me yet this once ; let me not 
be disgraced in my old age ! Or if Thou wilt not help me 
don't help those Hundsvogte " (opprobrious epithet), " but 
leave us to do the best we can." With that he let slip his 
right wing against the hill near Kesseldorf with its in- 
trenched batteries and Saxon grenadiers, who defended it so 
well that the Prussians suffered a first and second repulse 



13th-25th Dec. 1745. 

with heavy loss. But then the Saxons, thinking the time 
come for a counter attack, and not having a reserve at hand 
to make it with, led also into folly by one Austrian 
battalion with them, rushed out of the works in pursuit. 
Old Leopold, slow in strategy, was quick-eyed in battle. 
He instantly launched the cavalry of his right wing against 
the Saxons as they came on, tumbled them into ruin, and, 
pushing on the infantry reinforced, captured the great 
battery. At the same time the Prussian centre, under 
Leopold's son Moritz, advanced waist-deep across the boggy 
brook, and helped to destroy the Saxon army, capturing 
many prisoners. Whole regiments laid down their arms. 
Their left and centre thus broken and ruined, the Saxons 
sought safety in flight. Griine, secure in his useless and idle 
position, looked on all day during the battle, retiring 
quietly at night. He was safe enough ; the Saxons had 
lost 3,000 killed and wounded, with 6,000 prisoners. 

Next day, the king came up, and, at sight of Leopold, 
dismounted from his horse, dotted his hat, and advanced to 
meet the old man with open arms. The bright designer of 
new methods of war honoured the master of the old ways 
which he was displacing. The veteran warrior who had 
besought the God of battles at least to let him alone, saw 
himself reverenced by the young soldier who had not 
ceased to push him these many days. Who will not sym- 
pathise with the triumph Leopold enjoyed during the short 
remainder of his life ? He died on the 7th of April, 1747. 

Prince Charles, who was already about Dresden, and 
might have joined in the battle had he been quicker of 
apprehension and action, retired at once into Bohemia. 
Dresden opened its gates to the conquering Prussians, 
Saxony made peace, and Austria agreed at last to resign 
all claim on Silesia. The treaty was signed at Dresden 


Pco. 1745. 

on Christmas Day, 174.5, having been arranged through 
the medium of Villi ers, the English ambassador. Silesia, 
with Glatz, was henceforth to be an integral portion of 
the Prussian kingdom. 

Thus far we have seen a series of military movements 
and battles in which the king was learning the art of war. 
Mollwitz was fought entirely in the old style — parallel 
formation and hammer-and-tongs fighting in which the 
steadiness of the Prussian infantry gained the day, the 
cavalry being inferior to that of the Austrians. At 
Chotusitz there was parallel order again, but the action of 
Frederick in attacking with his right wing instead of rein- 
forcing the left, shows courage and military insight. In the 
campaign against Prince Charles and Traun, Frederick was 
clearly out-manoeuvred by the Austrian general, but made 
up for many strategical errors by his tactical dispositions 
and great daring at Hohenfriedburg and Sohr. In both of 
these battles he used the oblique order, refusing one flank, 
and attacking with the other reinforced. His cavalry, 
improved by himself, and led by remarkable commanders, 
was the best on the European continent, and handled by 
the king with great boldness and initiative. His artillery 
was defective for reasons given in Chapter III., and field 
artillery had not then become more than a defensive arm. 
Frederick's want of knowledge how to handle artillery 
boldly, and his failure to pursue a beaten enemy, are 
evident faults at this period of his career. 

I 2 



A.D. 1746—1756. 

CThe task which Frederick had set himself to do as his 
share in the rise of the Hohenzollerns was now accom- 
plished. Silesia was his, guaranteed by solemn treaties. 
Peace also, much needed for his kingdom, seemed at last 
assured, and he set himself to gather in the fruits of his 
victories. Throughout his campaigns two desires had been 
always present to him. First, to win and hold Silesia as 
an integral part of his dominions. Second, to win repose, 
and spend it in improving the condition of his people, and 
enjoying the society of the chosen spirits of his age. His 
devotion to literature was only second to that for his 
kingdom, and there is no doubt that he would rather 
have been known in history as a successful votary 
of the Muses than as the winner of campaigns. Bitter 
experience had taught him that such glory as war brings 
is dearly purchased ; he had yet to learn that the triumphs 
of peace may be equally disappointing. 

j The peace which he had gained for himself refused as yet 
/jip calm distracted Europe, and England made overtures to 



him, offering great advantages, among others a subsidy of 
a million annually if he would draw the sword on her side 
of the quarrel. Frederick was not to be moved. His 
country house was approaching completion, and the name 
which he gave it tells clearly the condition of his mind. 
" Here," he said, one day to D'Argens, *' Je serai sans 
soucif^ and Sans Souci — without worry — came to be the 
name of the royal cottage. But the meaning of the king 
had probably been that not in the cottage, but in the tomb 
which he was building for himself hard by, he would at last 
lay down his worries. It certainly was not in his mind to 
seek an inglorious ease at this or any other period of 
his life. 

His first task was to reform the procedure of law. The 
duty of designing the means was confided to Cocceji, his 
chief law minister, even before the peace, and the result to 
be aimed at was, in few words, that every lawsuit should 
be begun and finished within a year. The chief measures 
were the extirpation of attorneys, so that clients were 
brought into direct contact with their advocates ; the weed- 
ing out of judges and advocates, so that none but the best 
remained, and those well paid ; and the king's own special 
contrivance, all suits with their appeals and what not, 
three chances being allowed, to be made an end of within 
a year. The reform was carried out, and the king generally 
supported the decisions. But he had in him much of 
his father's temperament, and there were cases in which 
his despotic will asserted itself. Some of the stories told 
of him are, perhaps, mythical, but all cannot be untrue. At 
least it may be said ir ^lis honour that he sometimes knew 
how to yield his will to the law as administered by just and 
determined judges. 

Frederick's idea of justice was that right should be done, 



and iliat he was tke best judge of wliat was right. His 
high-handed proceedings extended not to his kingdom 
only, but beyond its frontiers. As early as 1744 he had 
shown his hand in rather humorous fashion. His agent 
had engaged a dancer at Venice, Barberina by name, to 
come to Berlin. The time for fulfilling the treaty arrived, 
but the fair damsel was then in soft dalliance with an 
Englishman, and laughed at the agent. Nothing should 
make her leave the pleasant city for the rude admiration of 
Berlin. Frederick appealed to the doge and senate, but 
gained nothing from them but good words. After some 
months, a Venetian ambassador happened to be passing 
through Berlin, and slept at an hotel there. Next morning 
he found that his baggage was seized ; nor could he get it 
out of the king's hands till Venetian justice arrested 
Barberina and packed her off to Berlin, where she event- 
ually became the wife of the very Cocceji who was now 
reforming the laws. 

A still stronger step was taken by Frederick at a 
later period during the ten years' peace. Ost Fries- 
land, with ports on the Atlantic, having fallen in to 
Prussia in 1744, the king encouraged maritime adven- 
ture, and hoped to make his country a sea power. He 
even fitted out at one time an expedition to the East 
Tndies — the promised land of that time. Immediately 
after coming into possession of Ost Friesland, he arranged 
with England what articles were to be considered as con- 
traband of war. But in 1745 the English began to seize 
wooden planks which, under the head of timber, were by 
agreement to be free. Frederick protested, and insisted 
that his ships so laden and so seized should be released. 
The English Admiralty courts condemned them. Frederick 
appointed a special commission, directing its members to 



report ** wliat they could answer to God, to the king, and 
to the whole world," concerning the dispute. The commis- 
sion reported that the ships were not carrying contraband 
of war. The dispute dragged on till, in November, 1752, 
Frederick notified to the English Government that he 
should not pay to English holders of Silesian bonds their 
usual dividend, till his own shipowners were compensated, 
or the ships and cargoes returned. This was certainly not 
law, but he carried out his idea of rough justice, thus com- 
pensating his own people at the expense, not of England, 
but of certain innocent Englishmen. 

In pursuance of his intention to surround himself with 
men of genius, Frederick invited Yoltaire to Berlin. The 
great Frenchman arrived in July, 1750, and was made a 
chamberlain with the cross of the Order of Merit, and a 
pension of £850 a year — a large sum in those days, espe- 
cially in so frugal an establishment as that of the Prus- 
sian court. At first all went well. The brilliant wit of 
the satirist enlivened the court, and awoke the duller in- 
tellects of the practical Prussian soldiers and statesmen. 
But it awoke also the jealousy of other favourites, such as 
Maupertuis, the President of the Academy ; and Yoltaire, 
dyspeptic and irritable, made himself enemies on all sides. 
Quarrels arose with Maupertuis, and Voltaire had a dis- 
reputable lawsuit with Hirsch, a Jew, whom he had em- 
ployed in what we should now call a doubtful stock 
exchange transaction. On the 24th of February, 1751, the 
king wrote him a letter from Potsdam, in which, after 
reproaching him with irritability against other friends 
and political meddling, he concluded in these words : — 

For my own share, I have preserved peace in my house till 
your arrival : and I warn you, that if you have the passion of 
intriguing and caballing, you have applied to the wrong hand. I 



like peaceable, composed people, wlio do not put into their con- 
duct the violent passions of tragedy. If you can resolve to live 
like a philosopher I shall be glad to see you [at Potsdam] ; but if 
you abandon yourself to all the violence of your passions and get 
into quarrels with all the world, you will do me no good by 
coming here, and you may as well stay in Berlin. 

Here was warning enough, one might suppose, but 
"Voltaire was incorrigible. A demon of unrest drove him 
on. His quarrels became more bitter than ever. The 
pompous Maupertuis committed himself foolishly in a 
controversy with Kbnig, who had questioned the originality 
of a theory of his on Maxima and Minima, wherein the 
President of the Academy had professed to find proof of 
the existence of an intelligent Creator of the universe. 
Of his paper, Essai de Cosmologie, Voltaire wittily wrote : 
** M. de Maupertuis pretended that the only proof of the 
existence of God is the circumstance that AR •\- n RB is 
a minimum." This article appeared in the Bihliotheque 
Raisonnee. The academy supported Maupertuis and con- 
demned Kbnig. Frederick wrote a sharp reply to Voltaire's 
article, but evidently knew little of the controversy. 
Finally, Voltaire wrote his Doctor Akahia, a satirical piece 
in which he gibbeted Maupertuis and his doctrines. The 
Ahakia was read to Frederick, who heard it with peals of 
laughter, but strictly forbade its publication. In vain. 
The satire of a man to whom nothing was sacred was not 
to be suppressed. Doctor Akakia appeared, first in Holland, 
then in Berlin. Thirty thousand copies were sold in Paris, 
and the Academy of Berlin became the laughing-stock of 
the world of letters. Voltaire swore that the publication 
was no doing of his, but the king wrote to him ; — 

Your effrontery astonishes me. After what you have done, and 
what is as clear as day, you persist, instead of owning yourself 



culpable. ... If you drive the affair to extremity, all shall be 
made public ; and it will be seen whether, if your works deserve 
statues, your conduct does not deserve chains. 

On the 24th of December, 1752, Akakia was burnt in the 
public streets of Berlin by the common hangman, and 
though Yoltaire was again received at Potsdam, he soon 
obtained permission to leave Prussia, on pretence of drink- 
ing the waters at Plombi^res, and carried off with him a • 
copy of certain poetical effusions of the king, which their 
royal author dreaded to have published because some of 
them were sharp criticisms of brother royalties. From 
Dresden and Leipzig Yoltaire continued to let fly Parthian 
shafts of ridicule against Maupertuis, who threatened him 
with a challenge. Voltaire's reply, though witty, was 
unclean and insulting. Europe roared with laughter, but 
Frederick was very wrath. Clearly the wit was not to be 
trusted, and orders were given that the (Euvre de Poesies 
should be taken from him when he passed through Frank- 
furt. He was arrested accordingly, and detained because 
the book was not with him. It arrived shortly, and was 
given up, together with his cross of chamberlain. But mean- 
while the irritability of the philosopher and the dulness of 
the officials brought about a series of scenes more or less 
discreditable to both. Such was the result of Frederick's 
efforts to turn his court into a temple of the Muses. 

Nor were, his hopes of perpetual peace destined to be 
fulfilled. > The great natural quarrel between England and 
the powers which restrained her free movements on the 
sea and her extension of colonies, had never ceased.^ 
.^ngland would have the freedom of the sea ; and on land 
/ghe pushed population and ploughs where France paraded 
soldiers. In such a struggle war must come, but, by laws 
invariable as the laws of ^ature, the population will win 



in the end. After much bickering, blows began in 1754, 
and at the beginning of 1755 England despatched the 
ill-fated Braddock with a small force, which was destroyed 
in July — evidently because Braddock, like most English 
generals of the time, was a brave man absolutely ignorant 
of the military art. 'As yet, however, the quarrel was only 
colonial. England embittered, it by seizing French ships 
without any declaration of \(^ar. > 

But why did Frederick strike in, if indeed he desired 
peace 1 In truth there was no choice for him. '. As early 
as 1752-53 his secret agents had discovered that Austria, 
Russia, and Saxony were hatching a plot for the destruction 
of Prussia, and such a partition as afterwards befell un- 
happy Poland. In 1753 a Saxon official, Mentzel by name, 
began to supply the Prussian agents with copies of secret 
documents from the archives at Dresden, which proved 
that, during the whole of the peace, negotiations had been 
proceeding for a simultaneous attack on Frederick, though 
the astute Briihl, mindful of former defeats, objected to 
playing the part of jackal to the neighbouring lions. CIn 
short, by the end of 1755 the king knew that preparations 
were already on foot in Austria and Russia, and that he 
would probably be attacked next year certainly, or at latest, 
the year after. A great war was coming between England 
and France, in which the continental power would attack 
Hanover, and tread closely on the skirts of Prussia. The 
/situation was dangerous, and became terribly menacing 
wEen England bargained with Russia to subsidise a 
Muscovite army of 55,000 men for defence of Hanover. 
Russia consented with alacrity. Money was all that the 
fczarina needed for her preparations against Frederick, and 
in the autumn of 1755 she assembled, not 55,000, but 
70,000 men on the Prussian frontier, nominally for the 


Jan. -Jane 1756. 

use of England. But throughout the winter all the talk at 
St. Petersburg was of Frederick's destruction in the coming 
spring. , 

It was time for him to stir. His first move was one of 
policy. He offered England a "neutrality convention" by 
which the two powers jointly should guarantee the German 
Reich against all foreign intervention during the coming 
war^ On the 16th of January, 1756, the convention was 
signed in London, and the Russian agreement thrown over, 
as it could well be, since it had not been ratified. 

Europe was now ranking herself for the struggle. In 
preceding years the Austrian diplomatist Kaunitz, had so 
managed the French court, especially through the medium 
of Madame de Pompadour, that Louis XV. was now on the 
side of Maria Theresa, [who had bowed her neck so far as 
to write to the FrencK king's mistress as *'Ma Cousine," 
while Frederick forgot policy, and spoke of the Pompadour 
in slighting terms. ^^ Jene la connais pas," said he once, 
and was never forgiven. Yet some attempts were made 
by France to enlist Frederick on her side against England. 
For alliance against England he was offered the plunder of 
Hanover and the island of Tobago. He sternly refused ; 
and henceforth the Pompadour had her way. France and 
Austria allied themselves against England, and for revenge 
of " J^e ne la connais pas.^' The agreement with Russia 
to partition Prussia had already been made, and Frederick's 
sharp tongue had betrayed hini into calling the czarina 
that ^^ Infame catin du nord." , Saxony waited for the 
appearance of her stronger neighbours in order to join, 
them. (England alone was Frederick's ally. And what an 
ally for a continental struggle ! There were just three 
battalions in England, and though she was raising others, 
the Duke of Newcastle dared not have colonels for them 


June-Aug. 175«. 

because the patronage would be in the hands of his political 
adversary, the Duke of Cumberland. The French threatened 
invasion. Hessian and Hanoverian troops were brought 
over and regarded with hatred by the populace. LFortu- 
nately the French expedition sailed for Minorca instead of 
for England, and the episode of Admiral Byng's retirement 
occurred in the Mediterranean instead of the Straits of 
Dover. The result ^as the capitulation of Minorca in the 
end of June, 1756. jThis was the England of the time. 

/But the star of Pitt was rising, and its brilliant rays soon 
showed the true path to a nation which never needs more 
than a brave and capable leader, and always finds him at 
the right moment. Frederick said later, "England has 
been long in labour, but she has at last brought forth a 

Meanwhile Austria was arming. Camps were formed in 
Bohemia and Moravia. War was plainly at hand, and 

) Frederick determined that he would not give his adversaries 
the first move. Following the advice of Mitchell, the envoy 
of England at Berlin, he demanded through his ambassador 
at Vienna a distinct assurance that the armaments were 
not destined for the invasion of Prussia. He received, 
first an ambiguous, then a haughty reply, and on the 29th 
of August, 1756, launched his forces on the road to 
Dresden. The Seven Years' War had commenced, j 





A.D. 1756. 


The total force for home purposes and for war, possessed 
by Frederick when the war opened, was about 150,000 men. 
Of these about 65,000 marched southward in three columns. 
The right_wing,^ommanded by Duke Ferdinand of Bruns- 
v^n^k, marched from Magdeburg by Leipsig — Freiburg — 
Dippoldiswalde, to the neighbourhood of Pirna. The centre 
under the king with Marshal Keith as second — a Scotchman 
trained in the Russian service, but lately drawn into the 
circle of Frederick's warriors — moved direct on Dresden by 
the south bank of the Elbe. The left was led by the Duke 
of Bevern, and marched from Frankfurt on the Oder by 
Bautzen to Lohmen, where it faced Duke Ferdinand on the 
other side of the Elbe. Besides these, another army under 
Schwerin was ordered to march from Silesia through the 
Glatz mountains by Nachod. The Saxons had a total 
force of 18,000 men, say a field army of 14,000 or 15,000. 
f-The Austrians formed two camps ii\ Bohemia under Marshal 
^"Browne and Prince Piccolomini. ^fFrederick's plan of /ii 
campaign was to sweep up the Saxon army or cause it to i 
disperse, lest it should, as in a previous campaign, interrupt 


V 1756. 

his communications. Then the three columns from the 
north and the oiieirom the east would fall upon the 
Austrians in Bohemia, drive them back, and perhaps dictate 
peace at the gates of Yienna. In that case one of his 
intended executioners would be disposed of, and the league 
broken up. 

This /plan was spoiled by the Saxons who, instead of 
fighting or dispersing, retired to the rugged district on the 
Elbe now known as the Saxon Switzerland, where they 
hoped i|o hold ^ out until Austria or Russia could come to 
their assistance. ■ Dresden was occupied without a blow, and 
the first act of the king was to order the seizure of the 
original documents copied by Mentzel, and still lying in the 
archives of the Saxon capital. 

The retreat of the Saxons was a shock to Frederick's 
plans. Schwerin's column halted in front of Koniggratz, 
where Piccolomini's camp was placed. A reconnaissance 
of the Saxon highlands showed that the army which had 
taken refuge there, about 14,000 strong, could not be 
attacked. Frederick, hearing that its store of provisions 
was small, established a blockade, placing his own head- 
quarters at Gross-Sedlitz. The principal mass of the 
Saxons lay at Hennersdorf; but they occupied also the 
small but impregnable fortress on the steep Konigstein, 
where the Elector of Saxony, who was also King of Poland, 
slept every night. It is suggestive of the times that, 
though the Saxon army was to be starved out, Frederick 
allowed the table of the King of Poland to be well sup- 
plied — an indulgence which must have told against the 
early surrender of his forces. Marshal Keith was de- 
spatched with about 32,000 men up the Elbe to Aussig, to 
protect the blockading force against General Browne, who 
had been ordered by the Austrian court to relieve the 


2Srd Sept.-lst Oct. 1756. 

Saxons at all hazards. It is clear that the designs of 
Austria and Russia were not intended to be carried out 
so soon, for, though Browne marched on the 23rd of Sep- 
tember to Budin, on the Eger, he w^as told to wait there 
until the 30th for the arrival of his artillery and pontoons, 
which had to be prepared at Vienna. Frederick was 
informed of the movements of Browne, and feeling anxious 
lest his force at Aussig should be turned without an oppor- 
tunity to fight, moved his head-quarters to that place on 
the 29th, and took the command. Next day he moved to 
Tiirmitz with a strong advance-guard, sending forward a 
small detachment, which scoured the country as far as 
Lobositz, and discovered that the Austrian army was 
already laying down bridges to pass the Eger. Early in 
the morning of the 30th the heads of his main columns 
began to arrive at Tiirmitz, and at 3 a.m. Frederick, 
with his advance-guard, pushed on rapidly to Welmina, 
where from his posts on the hills he could descry the 
Austrian army and camp below on the Bohemian plains, 
not more than about a mile distant from him. The right 
flank of the Austrians rested on the Elbe at Lobositz, its 
left was at Tschirskowitz. It is remarkable that so good a 
general as Browne neglected to occupy the two hills just 
in front of his camp, that of Lobosch on his right, and 
Homolka on his left, for they commanded the issues from 
the mountains. Frederick, observing their value, seized 
them at once, and occupied the pass between them, through 
which ran the road from Welmina to Lobositz. 

Next morning, the 1st of October, autumn mists enfolded 
the lower hills and lay in foggy thickness over the whole 
plain, completely hiding the Austrians from view. At first 
the king, expecting an attack from the enemy, deployed a 
hundred guns in one grand battery extending from the 



Ilomolka hill right over that of Lobosch, in front of 
Lobositz, and drew up his infantry first in two lines, after- 
wards extending them so that they formed only one. The 
cavalry, in three lines, was behind the infantry. The king, not 
supposing that Browne would have made so grave a mistake 
as not to occupy the hills if he intended to fight, and find- 
ing that no attack took place, only some annoyance from 
Croat light troops, judged that the Austrians must be 
crossing the Elbe with intention to turn his left flank and 
march down towards the Saxons by the right of the river. 
He therefore decided to pivot on his left, and drive what 
he supposed to be Browne's rear- guard into the Elbe. He 
first sent forward twenty squadrons of cavalry to charge a 
body of the enemy's cavalry which had been seen through 
the fog near Lobositz. The Austrian cavalry were driven 
back, but the Prussian horse came upon well-posted in- 
fantry, which fired rapidly, having now — they also — iron 
ramrods. At the same time the fog-curtain slowly rose 
and disclosed to the eyes of the king the whole Austrian 
army drawn up in line of battle — left and centre behind 
the almost impassable Morell brook, right extending 
through Lobositz to Welhoten. Lobositz was strongly 
occupied by infantry, with redoubts and many guns. It 
was also evident that Browne was moving more infantry 
through Lobositz on Frederick's left flank. There was one 
great defect in Browne's position — though his left and 
centre were protected by the Morell brook, they were 
hindered by it from advancing. The advantage to Frede- 
rick was the same as that to Marlborough at Ramillies, 
and he used it in the same manner as the English general. 
The Prussian cavalry having been repulsed in a second 
charge retired, and the king, instead of swinging round 
his right as he had intended, decided to neglect the Austrian 



left wing and concentrate his whole power in an attack on 
Lobositz. In this movement the battalions became crowded, 
a fact which gave rise to the belief that the infantry were 
formed in three lines. Browne made a strong frontal 
attack on the Lobosch hill, outflanking it also from Wel- 
hoten. The king extended his left to meet this movement. 
The Austrians were repulsed and driven down upon Lobo- 
sitz, some of the troops from Welhoten being even thrust 
into the Elbe. The Austrians fought gallantly. So severe 
was the struggle that the Prussian infantry expended the 
whole of their ammunition, ninety rounds per man, and 
then, coming to a deadly wrestle with the bayonet and the 
butt, thrust the enemy through Lobositz, occupied it, and 
began to push forward in pursuit. Browne had attempted, 
once or twice, flank attacks with his left, which crossed the 
brook higher up to attack Lobositz, but every such move- 
ment was repulsed by the great Prussian battery. Now 
that things had gone wrong on the right, Browne drew in 
his left, and by it checked the Prussian pursuit, so that his 
army succeeded in disengaging itself and retiring in good 
order about a couple of miles from the battle-field. 

It was not the king's wish that Browne should remain 
there, and he accordingly detached the Duke of Bevern 
with a strong force to Tschirskowitz, with orders to threaten 
Browne's communications, who, fearing the loss of his 
supplies at Budin, fell back to that place. 
^Both sides claimed the victory, the Austrians because 
they had repulsed the early cavalry attack, the Prussians, 
more justly, because they had foiled Browne's intentions, 
prevented his advance into the mountains, and caused him 
to fall back from the battle-field._l Each side had lost 3,000 
men, the Prussians having suffered slightly more than the 


. Oct. 17:8, 

I Th e battle of Lobositz was the knell of the Saxon army. 
One more attempt was indeed made by Browne. Under 
urgent commands from YiennaSvhe crossed the Elbe" further 
up, and moved by a circuitous route through Bohm-Leip'a, 
Kamnitz, Kumburg, and Schluckenau, then to Lichtenhayn 
near Schandau. He communicated to the Saxons a plan 
by which, under cover of fire from the Konigstein, they 
should throw a bridge across the Elbe and attack the 
Prussian blockading posts in front, while he himself would 
act upon their rear. It is doubtful whether this plan 
would have succeeded under any circumstances. Its failure 
was certain when the Saxons bungled their bridge-making, 
and were two days late in giving the signal which Browne 
expected. On the 14th of October the two signal guns 
were fired from the Konigstein, but Browne was already 
in retreat and out of hearing. The Saxon attack com- 
pletely failed, and the army, hungering and soaked by 
several days' rain, had to capitulate. \ Frederick with cool 
cynicism incorporated the whole force in his own army — 
an extraordinary step which turned out the reverse of 
useful to his arms. J The Elector of Saxony was allowed to 
retire to hisToIish court, and Frederick wintered at 
Dresden, taking the administration of the electorate into 
his own hands. Schwerin's army fell back on Silesia, and 
was cantoned on the frontier of Bohemia. That of the king 
remained in Saxony, forming a cordon from Eger to Pirna, 
thence extending through Lusatia to the river Queiss. 

The inception and conduct of this campaign have been 
much criticised. Lloyd is astonished that Frederick did 
not commence operations at the end of 1755 or beginning 
of 1756, since he knew then as much as afterwards of the 
combination against him. The English author approves of 
his invasion of Saxony, but thinks that he ought only 



to have observed the Saxon army when it retired to 
Pirna. He should then have pushed on to Bohemia, and, 
if possible, Vienna. Tempelhof defends the measures 
which were taken, and Jomini, summing up their argu- 
ments, is of opinion that the invasion of Saxony was a 
mistake, as its tendency was to irritate those who would 
otherwise have remained neutral. According to this 
writer Frederick should have avoided Saxony, penetrated 
into Moravia, and marched by Olmiitz on Vienna. 

This last opinion seems just, but it fails to take into 
consideration that armies were in those days supplied 
by huge trains of waggons, that the art of making war 
feed itself had not then been invented, and, above all, 
that a Russian army was cantoned on the Prussian frontier 
ready, as might be supposed, to take the field if Frederick's 
army were once removed far away from Berlin. 

The truth seems to be that the king always hoped to 
stave off the great crisis, and waited on events. I^ sc 
doing he yielded to a common human weakness. rAs__a 
man, leaving home dry-shod on a wet day, picks his foot- 
steps for a while, but by degrees forgets his caution and 
plods straight through mire and pools, so Frederick 
hesitated to plunge at first into the sea of his enemies, 
husbanded the strength of his army, and only became bold 
to recklessness when war and danger of annihilation had 
become familiar to him. He was not, like Napoleon, a 
warlike adventurer, but a king who loved peace^ \ 

E "Z 



A.D. 1757. 


The forcible absorption of the Saxon army into that of 
Prussia startled all the courts of Europe. It was a new 
thing unrecognised by international law. Frederick was 
adjudged a monster, who should be put down by all possible 
means. From our point of view the act was both a crime 
and a blunder ; a crime against the Saxon soldiers whom 
the king had no right to take, and who were thus placed in 
a position to fight against their own countrymen ; a blunder 
because the men so seized and incorporated gave a great 
deal of trouble, and were always untrustworthy. It does 
not however follow that we need sympathise with the self- 
elected executioners, whose own interests now urged them 
on rather than any virtuous wish to protect the liberties of 

The combination against Frederick was one to appal the 
stoutest heart. His own country numbered about 5,000,000 
of population ; its revenue was rather less than £2,000,000 
sterling. He had a hoarded treasure for war purposes, the 
amount of which is not exactly known. This treasure pre- 
pared for first expenditure in case of war is a regular 



Prussian institution which continues in our own time, and 
enables the army to commence a campaign without fresh 
supplies granted by Parliament. Frederick's army had 
been increased during the winter so that it now numbered 
150,000 men for the field, besides a home defensive force 
partly in garrisons of about 40,000. His allies the English 
had in their pay a composite " Britannic army of observa- 
tion " in Hanover. It was about 50,000 strong, and con- 
sisted of the Hanoverians and Hessians who had been 
brought to England when invasion was threatened, and 
other Hanoverians, Brunswickers, and va,rious men from 
North Germany. About the middle of April the Duke 
of Cumberland was sent from England to command this 
force. He was a brave man but an incapable general, and 
as Frederick's advice was not taken with regard to the 
strategy of the Duke's army the force had little influence 
on the campaign. But, including it, the whole strength 
of .himself and his allies amounted to about 240,000 

- XAgainst him and his small nation were arrayed France, 
Austria, Hungary, presently Sweden, and, in the background, 
E-ussia. Of troops actually in the field with intent to crush him 
there were altogether 430,000 coming from four different 
quarters. The French under Marshal _d'Estrees, numbering 
about 110,000, crossed the German border near Cleves and 
Cologne, with the intention of marching chiefly upon Prussia. 
Another force under Soubise, 30,000 strong, was to rein- 
force the Keichs armament as soon as it was ready. The 
Austrians under Marshal Browne were divided into four 
corps ; one under the Duke of Ahremberg was at Eger, the 
second under Browne himself was at Budin, the third under 
Count Konigseck was at Beichenberg, and the fourth in 
Moravia under Count Serbelloni who was afterwaids 


18th April-2nd May 1757. 

succeeded by General Daun. The Kussians with 100,000 
and the Swedes with 17,000 still hung back. 

Clearly^ would be dangerous for the king to wait until 
his enemies attacked him ; like all great generals he pre- 
ferred to take the initiative, and directed his armies to 
march upon Prague. About the end of April the Duke of 
Bevern from Lusatia^ the king himself over the Metal 
Mountains, and Schwerin from Silesia made an almost 
simultaneous rush upon Prague. The king's column, 
45,000 foot, 15,000 horse, was at first divided into two, but 
united south of the mountains. Bevern had 18,000 foot 
and 5,000 horse, Schwerin had 32,000 foot and 12,000 
horse. He had the furthest to go, and started on the 18th 
of April, uniting with Bevern on the 24th, who in the 
meantime had beaten Kbnigseck at Reichenberg on the 
21st, assaulting the Austrian general in a strong position, 
though the Prussians were inferior in force. The king's 
column had in crossing the Eger an affair with D' Ahremberg 
whom Frederick tried to cut off ; but, as a main result, 
the Austrian forces made good their retreat upon and 
through Prague, outside which town the king arrived on 
the 2nd May, Schwerin and Bevern not yet being up. 
(^It was perhaps fortunate for Frederick that at this 
moment Marshal Browne was superseded in comma,nd by 
Prince Charles who had j ust arrived, and was not, as we know, 
a brilliant general. ^3^® Austrians had a chance given 
them for attacking JFrederick with greatly superior forces 
before Schwerin and Bevern could unite with him. It is 
said that a violent altercation took place between Prince 
Charles and Browne, but that in the end the prince decided 
to wait for the incoming of Kbnigseck before undertaking 
any operations. ? His army lay on the Ziscaberg and 
kept possession of the city. 


5th 6th May 1757. 

The first difficulty was to effect a junction with Schwerin, 
who was a day or two later than the time appointed. 
Schwerin had fortunately captured an Austrian magazine 
at Jung-Bunzlau, and was safely across the Elbe. On the 
5th the king found a good crossing place at Seltz, north of 
the city, and put together his pontoons there. He left a 
force of 30,000 under Keith and Weissenberg and crossed 
with the rest of the force the same day, coming in contact 
with Schwerin' s advance party the same evening. He 
appointed a meeting with the marshal near Prossik village 
at 6 A.M. next morning. 

The student of war who would grasp the method of 
Frederick with its strength and its weakness, and appreciate 
the character of the man with its influence on his work, 
should study attentively, map on table, the battle of 
Prague and that of Kolin, which followed it at no long 
interval. He will mark the effect of Austrian slowness, and 
the grievous error of trusting to the defensive absolute in 
war. And if he will bear in mind the changes which have 
taken place in modern times, the development of artillery 
and small arms, he will recognise that, while the great 
principles of tactics remain the same for all time, their 
application must vary with the weapons used and with the 
style of manoeuvre, which must change as the cannon and 
the rifle change. In its main principles the battle of Prague 
was not unlike that of Gravelotte; but how different were 
the details ! 

On the morning of the 6th of May, 1757, the Austrian 
army was encamped on the Ziscaberg facing north. Its 
left rested on the height which towers above the city, and 
drops down sharply some five or six hundred feet. Its 
right extended to Kyge, and was strengthened by a 
pond and boggy bottom; for the Ziscaberg, sloping east- 



ward, combines with other neighbouring hills to shed there 
the waters which fall on the highlands. A poor brook 
marks the lowest contour, but fails to drain the swamp, 
though it fills a chain of ponds partly artificial. Modern 
drainage has dried the ponds and hardened the swamp. In 
1757 it was all an oozy quagmire. On the 6 th of May the 
sluices of the ponds near Sterbohol had lately been opened, 
and the muddy bottom sown with weeds, intended for carp 
food so soon as water and fish should be returned to their 
places. Already the growth was of a vivid green, which would 
naturally deceive a schoolboy but not an experienced staff- 
officer of modern times. To-day there is not a staff in 
Europe which does not possess accurate maps of all such 
important positions as Prague. In Frederick's time the 
king and his generals seem to have been equally ignorant 
of the ground on which they were to fight a battle of vital 
importance to Prussia. 

Frederick, Winterfeld his adjutant-general, and Schwerin, 
rode in front of the Austrian position to reconnoitre, and 
came to the conclusion that its front was unassailable, and 
the flank at Kyge difficult, because there pools and bogs 
were defended by batteries. Yet it was possible ; and 
Schwerin, riding on, reported that further round the 
Austrian flank the ground was more favourable, for he saw 
there rich green meadows instead of fish ponds. The 
meadows were the carp food growing in soft mud kneedeep, 
and even waistdeep in places. The king decided to attack 
this* flank. But when? Here arose a hot discussion. The 
old marshal, Schwerin, prayed for a day's delay. His men 
had been marching nearly all night and were fatigued. 
The fiery king despised delay and fatigue. " Do you, then, 
wish to wait till, perhaps, Daun arrives with a reinforce- 
ment of thirty thousand men for the enemy % " The debate 



waxed hot, and old Schwerin finally rode off in a temper 
to commit any rasli action, and determined that no reproach 
of hanging back should ever be levelled at him or his men 
for their deeds on this day. 

The Prussian army was thrown into its usual two lines, 
and set in motion to its left flank, marching with automatic 
regularity, the pace and distance being kept with a perfec- 
tion possible to the Prussians alone of all Europe at that 
time. The Austrian artillery fired some rounds at them, 
especially as they passed near and through Podschernitz. ' 
Not a shot told. The distance was too great for the 
artillery of that day, though easily within range of modern 
field guns, and the faulty position of the batteries on too 
elevated ground caused the shot to fall with sullen thud in 
the soft ground instead of bounding. Clearly the Austrians 
should have pushed their heavy batteries more in advance, 
and been ready to support, by a heavy infantry attack, the 
effect produced by the guns. But they clung to the defen- 
sive, though Prince Charles, by Browne's advice, brought the 
cavalry of the left to support the right. The right wing 
was also thrown back en potence, and extended a little, so 
that the right of the army no longer rested on Kyge, but 
was about Sterbohol, supported by a battery on the 
Homolyberg. The cavalry were massed still further on 
the right. By half-past nine o* clock the Prussian van- 
guard was beginning to wheel up for attack, and the 
Austrians were hurriedly arriving in their new position to 
receive it. 

Fierce old Schwerin, smarting under the stinging words 
of his master, had led his troops so swiftly forward that not 
only were all the slowly toiling twelve-pounder guns left 
behind, but even the greater part of the regimental guns, 
three-pounders. Decker, who has made the work of the 


artillery in this war his special study, says that Schwerin 
had no guns up with him. Other authorities say only a 
few three-pounders. Certainly he was unable to prepare 
the way with artillery. Winterf eld was the first to attack 
with the head of the force, and rushed into Sterbohol before 
the arrival of the Austrians, but was met as he advanced by 
a storm of case shot from the Homoly battery. His ranks 
were torn to pieces, and recoiled. He himself fell, grievously 
wounded, but managed to crawl back to Schwerin, the 
Austrian grenadiers standing eighty yards off, awe-stricken, 
and without heart to pursue. Then the veteran Schwerin, 
with the fire of youth in his hoary head under its snows of 
seventy-three years, led on his men towards those rich, 
green carp pastures. Down went the soldiers, some labour- 
ing forward knee deep, some held fast sunk to the waist, 
all under deadly fire from the battery and from the 
Austrian grenadiers safe on the far side. The trim lines 
were perforce broken. Some struggled through, some 
filed on narrow causeways; Schwerin himself, seizing a 
colour, rode along a dam, crying, ** HeraUy meine Kinder " 
(This way, my children). Five grape shot struck him at 
once, and he sank dead — his grief, his rage assuaged to- 
gether, the light of battle for ever gone from his eyes. 
His adjutant, Von Platen, seized the flag, but fell instantly 
like his chief. Yet the Prussians pushed on — the Austrian 
grenadiers resisting foot by foot — far better than of yore. 
Fresh troops came up on both sides, and were hurried into 
the fight. Even the Austrian cavalry joined in the turmoil, 
till Ziethen found a way round by Michelup and struck the 
Austrian horsemen, dashing them back, and driving them, 
as ordered, far from the battle-field, (^arshal Browne was 
the soul of the defence in this struggle till his foot was 
smashed by cannon ball, and he was carried from the field. 1 



Prince Charles had tried to rally the horse till h6 was taken 
with a spasm of the heart, breast-pang or what not, and 
incapacitated for the time. By about half-past one the 
Prussians were victorious, and the Austrian right wing 
was tumbling back on the centre, for this is one of the 
faults of the formation en potence. 

Meanwhile, towards the centre, another episode had 
occurred contrary to, or at least without the king's 
orders. Another fault of the formation en potence is 
that, if either wing moves forward or wheels up ever 
so little, a gap is made in the line. This happened in the 
struggle on the right. The right wing brought up its left 
flank, and presented a gaping hole which no soldier could 
see without longing to push into it. The soul of General 
Mannstein — one of Frederick's acquirements from Russia — 
was over-mastered by this craving, and, without leave asked, 
he dashed at the opening, he too through mud and grape 
shot. Prince Henry and Duke Ferdinand of Brunswick 
supported him, not, it is whispered, without a secret under- 
standing. Prince Henry, seeing his men filing slowly 
along an embankment, cried, " This way, lads," and threw 
himself boldly into the mire through which, heavy wading 
as it needed, they passed more quickly than in file on the 
causeway. The gap was gained, the battery captured, and 
though the king scolded Mannstein afterwards, there is no 
doubt that his volunteer exploit greatly helped the defeat 
of the right wing, a large part of which, 16,000 strong, was 
cut off from the main Austrian army and followed the 
cavalry up the river. Where, then, was Ziethen with his 
hussars to charge these fugitives 1 Alas, an enemy stronger 
than Austrian horse, the great foe of all soldiers of the 
stern north had seized them. Arrived at Nussel in pursuit 
of the flying Austrians, they had found there plunder and 



drink. ** Your Majesty, I cannot rank a hundred of them 
sober," said their commander, with face of shame. 

Prince Moritz, who with the right wing of Keith's force 
on the Weissenberg, had been ordered to cross the Elbe at 
Branik — up stream — had failed to do so for lack of sufficient 
pontoons. It is said that only three more were wanting, 
but the lack of those three was enough to hinder the move- 
ment. Thus 16,000 of the best Austrian troops escaped to 
strengthen Daun. The rest were hurled back into Prague, 
nor could all the efforts of Prince Charles get them out of 
the city, though he tried several points of exit. ^The victory 
was great. Perhaps it might have been greater if Frede- 
rick had waited one day more to refresh the troops as 
Schwerin had advised ; for then the Prussians might possibly 
have entM-ed Prague and destroyed the Austrian army. 
Perhaps ! j But who can say with certainty that what 
might have been would have been? The result of the 
day was that a superior Austrian army was, like those of 
Mack at Ulm and Bazaine at Metz, shut up in a city from 
which it could not issue, and that by an army inferior in 
number. The original plan of campaign had named the 
6th May for the defeat of the Austrians, and if Schwerin 
were a day late, the fiat of Jove must stand none the less. 
It is true that Daun was near — within three marches — but 
on this and other occasions was abundantly shown a certain 
rugged obstinacy — shall we say pig-headedness ? — of Frede- 
rick. He was a great man and a great soldier. Why 
pretend that he was free from human faults 1 

The Prussian losses in the battle are variously estimated. 
Frederick himself gives 18,000; Carlyle, 12,500; Jomini, 
13,700 ; and so on. Probably Carlyle is more nearly right 
than the others. Frederick says that the Austrians lost 
24,000 ; Carlyle, who has diligently ransacked his much- 



maligned " Dryasdust " records, put their loss at 13,000 
only. We have seen that the battle, though bloody at 
points, was only partial, a great part of the forces on either 
side not being engaged, and Prague being handy for shelter 
to the Austrians. 

rTThe one great lesson — and it is of mtal importance to 
Enjglishmen — which we may draw from, this battle is, that an 
army immovably fixed in one position which has extremities 
not resting on impassable barriers may always be attacked 
and defeated on one of those extremities. Only by offensive 
manoeuvres is success possible, i The enem,y must be beaten, 
not merely repulsed. The idea, too prevalent in this country, 
that England could be successfully defended by unskilled 
militia and volunteers taking up a series of positions is a vain 
imagination, natural to minds bent upon bricks and m,ortar, hut 
rejected by all Tnasters of strategy and tactics. And the same 
rule applies to the defence of other countries, such as TurTceyTl 

CAMPAIGN OP 1757 {continued). — battle of kolin. — siege 


A.D. 1757. 


The Austrian army now caged in Prague numbered 
46,000 men, and Frederick hoped to make them yield 
quickly, while their spirits were still depressed by their 
defeat. He sent the Duke of Brunswick Bevern, with 
20,000 to watch Daun, who had about double that strength. 
Colonel Mayer, a clever leader of " Free Corps," was beat- 
ing up the quarters of the Reich, captured a great magazine 
in the Upper Palatinate, and laid the rich towns under 
contribution, though he had only some 1,300 foot soldiers 
and 200 horse with five guns. The Free Corps were 
Frederick's answer to the Hungarian and Croat irregulars. 
Recruited from all parts, deserters from other armies, and 
volunteers attracted by the fame of the great king, they 
were kept under strict discipline and well commanded. 
Some plunder was permitted them, but no cruelty. Poor 
Wilhelmina, always watching her brother's exploits 
and dangers with passionate rejoicing or tears of 
terror and mortification, decorated Colonel Mayer with 
her " Order of Sincerity and Fidelity " when he passed 


5th Aprn-29th May 1757. 

Baireuth. She could do little for the companion of her 
childhood but sympathise and honour his servants, and this 
she did with unvarying love and truth. Would that space 
permitted quotations from her letters, which tell in every 
line womanly devotion, and wrath that she is helpless to 

Weeks rolled on, and the Prussians still sat before the 
city. The provisions held out, and bombardment was of 
no effect. Browne was dying of his wound, and no 
Austrian General was found to risk a grand sally from 
the place. Daun, with the Fabian policy natural to his 
character, held back and watched events. In Hanover, the 
Duke of Cumberland, though incompetent, stood with his 
50,000 to 60,000, awaiting French attack, which came not. 
The battle of Prague had scared Austria's allies. England 

s in her usual state of indecision, and, for the time, the 
panic-mongers had the best ear of the country. Pitt, after 
four months' office, had been dismissed by the King of 
England himself on the 5th April, two days before the 
Boyal Highness of Cumberland sailed to take command in 
Hanover. Feebleness prevailed in America, where Lord 
Loudon commanded. A blow was necessary for Frederick's 
interests. Still Prague would not" "fall'. VThe- garrison 
offered indeed to give up the city, on condition of free 
withdrawal, but this was the least to be desired of all issues 
for the Prussian cause. Sallies were made, the heaviest 
with 10,000 men, but beaten back. On the 29th May a great 
storm broke the Prussian bridges, and thus cut the army in 
two. Fearing that the enemy would take advantage of the 
chance, the king ordered a bombardment of the city. For 
six hours after the storm the air rained red-hot shot and 
55hell. The town was fired in several places, houses fell 
with sudden crash, and above all the infernal din rose the 


12th 18th June 1757. 

" Weh-Elagen " (cry of woe) of the miserable townsfolk, 
9,000 of whom perished in this siege. That cry would 
seem to have penetrated to Vienna, for, shortly afterwards, 
strict orders were sent to Daun to attempt the relief of the 
city. ' ' , 

'^Daun's army had been reinforced to a strength of 
60,000, partly by the fugitives from the late battle, and 
the garrison of Prague was now 40,000 strong — total, 
100,000. The Prussians were in all about two-thirds that 
number. On the 12 th June Daun sent messengers to 
Prague, promising to attack on the 20th, and asking the 
garrison to sally out to his help. The king had wind of 
the movement, and at once decided to meet the Austrian 
general on his way. Taking 10,000 from the beleaguering 
force, and ordering another 4,000 under Prince Moritz to 
follow in two days, Frederick started to join Brunswick 
Beverne on the 13th, and found him at Kaurzim, thirty-five 
miles from Prague, the same evening. Unknown to the 
Prussians, Daun lay only three miles off that night. Of 
course Daun, veiled by clouds of irregulars, sat down and 
fortified. Equally of course, Frederick decided to attack 
him, but first must wait for his 4,000 men from Prague, 
and for that plague of armies in those days, baked bread 
from distant ovens. Manoeuvres of little interest ensued 
till, on the 18th June, the king's army, marching in two 
columns along the Kolin highway and to north of it, caught 
sight of the Austrians drawn up in a defensive position 
near Kolin and facing north. Daun was 60,000 strong ; 
Frederick about 34,000, of which nearly 18,000 were 
cavalry. The Austrians had about 180 guns, the Prussians 
about 100. 

The Austrian position will be understood by a glance at 
the map. It is only necessary to say that the hills are 


18th June 1757. 

not high, the slopes are gentle/ and the brooks, though 
small, have cut for themselves during the ages deep 
channels with swampy bottoms. Daun's left wing, thrown 
back en potence, was well protected by the ground ; the 
centre was in the open, but had several small villages in 
front of it strengthened by the military art, sown with 
guns in battery, and protected in front by Croat sharp- 
shooters in the standing corn. The right flank rested on 
the brook which flows into Kolin, and had the village of 
Kreczor^ for its advanced post. Half a mile behind the 
village was an oak wood. Nadasti, with the cavalry, was 
on a hill to the right front of Kreczor. The position was 
better than usual, because Daun had apparently been 
unable to find that false refuge of timid generals, an 
impassable obstacle running all along the front. The 
Austrian army was about five miles long from flank to 
flank, and formed in two lines, with a reserve in rear 
of the centre. 

Frederick, reconnoitring, decided to repeat the movement 
which had succeeded at the battle of Prague. Rightly 
judging that Daun would maintain his defensive attitude, 
the king once more made his dispositions for attack in 
oblique order. The whole army, thrown into two columns 
to the left, marched close to the Kolin road. Ziethen led 
with nearly 10,000 cavalry, his orders being to get rid of 
Nadasti, and, after passing Radowesnitz, to sweep round on 
the favourable ground and deliver a decisive blow on the 
right rear of the Austrians, who, the king rightly judged, 
would be inert for all manceuvring purposes as an ox 
before a butcher. Hlilsen followed with the vanguard of 
the infantry. He was to wheel up to the right and attack 

^ Actually Krzeczhorz, too dimly suggestive of any possible pro- 


18th June 1757. 

Kreczor, supported by the fresh troops ever arriving. 
Thus the infantry would begin the pressure on the Aus- 
trian right, which would be accelerated by more infantry, 
and converted by the cavalry attack into a crushing blow. 

But the success of this manoeuvre, as of all which depend 
upon the oblique order, demanded that the columns should 
indeed march on, unchecked, and accumulate their numbers 
on the decisive point. Otherwise there were no obedience 
to the master law of all tactics, the rule to bring superior 
forces of your own army against inferior forces of the enemy 
at the right time and place. 

The movement of the Prussian army was easily perceived 
by Daun. It was plain that his right flank was menaced, 
and he hastened to strengthen it by placing a battery of 
eighteen guns from the reserve on the left of Kreczor, and 
throwing four battalions of the line into the oak wood to 
support an unknown number of Croats already there, 
Hiilsen, advancing in due time to the attack of Kreczor, 
was received by the fire of the 18 -gun battery, suffered 
heavy losses, and was checked. The king pushed on three 
battalions of grenadiers rapidly to his aid. They suffered 
from the artillery fire in coming up, and Hiilsen, finding 
that nothing could be done in face of those guns, wisely 
overwhelmed the battery with eight battalions, and carried it. 
The village of Kreczor also fell into his hands, and with it 
seven out of the eight battalion guns then present with 
the infantry.* Ziethen, who had already chased Nadasti 
from the field, endeavoured to wheel round the oak wood, 

^ Carlyle speaks of two batteries, but it may be said once for all 
that he paid very little attention to the doings of artillery in Frederick's 
battles. The Prussian artillery was generally inferior and badly handled, 
and the work of that arm is slurred over in most Prussian accounts. 
Not till later did Frederick learn the value and the use of field 


18th June 1757. 

but was taken in flank by the battalion guns posted there, 
and could by no means either pass the wood or drive the 
enemy out of it. Again and again he led his cavalry 
forward, but was always repulsed. He had no guns to 
reply with, for horse artillery was not yet invented ; and 
Hulsen, who had only four guns at the front, had been 
obliged to send his chief force — eight battalions — to capture 
the 18-gun battery ; so that he had only two grenadier 
battalions available to attack the wood, which now contained 
four Austrian battalions besides Croats. 

Here then were the advanced guard of the army and 
10,000 cavalry, constituting between them about half the 
force, checked, after early victory, for lack of a few guns. 
And, as time is of the essence of success in the oblique 
order, the battle was already in danger of being lost. 
Hulsen looked to be speedily reinforced, but no help came. 
For hours he struggled and Ziethen struggled to carry the 
oak wood, always expecting help. None ever came. 

The chances of war are often so closely balanced, while 
such great results hang upon them, that men come to 
ascribe to blind "Fate," or "Luck," apparent accidents 
which are in truth due to human imperfection. Two such 
events occurred on this day. The first of them has ahvays 
been well known. Hot Mannstein, whose breach of arrange- 
ments had succeeded so well during the battle of Prague, 
felt, like the leaders who preceded him in the march, the 
irritating fire of the Croats in the corn. But, unlike his 
predecessors, he forgot how much depended on strict 
accuracy of march to support the advance, and that every 
regiment was ordered to govern its movements by the one 
in front of it. Fiery Mannstein could not bear the insult 
of Croats treading on his skirts, and shouted to his men, 
" Clear away those Croats." The regiment turned to its 

L 2 


16th June 1757. 

right and drove away the sharpshooters, who, retreating on 
reinforcements, led Mannstein clean away from his duty, 
and, as it seemed to the regiments behind, into an advance 
against the front of the Austrian army. All the rear of 
Frederick's force followed the evil example, thinking that 
a new order had come ; and thus, while Hulsen was strug- 
ling and praying for reinforcements, a large portion of the 
infantry broke off from the column and attacked on their 
own account in another part of the field. The army, already 
too small, split itself into parts, each of which was of no 
help to the other. 

But Mannstein was not immediately behind HUlsen. 
The troops of Prince Moritz came between. How was it 
that Hulsen was not supported even by these % For this 
Frederick was in fault, led away by that imperious temper 
which flamed into maddening wrath under contradiction. 
Seeing that Hulsen was in the way of success, and that he 
had taken the 18-gun battery, the king rode down to 
Moritz and ordered him to wheel up to the right. He 
probably meant half right, which would have put the force 
in echelon and on a short cut to Kreczor. Moritz under- 
stood the king to mean a direct wheel up to the right, 
which would bring the column into line, right in front of the 
Austrian heavy batteries and strong forces of infantry. 
Moritz protested, but the son of the king who wielded the 
rattan blazed into fiery heat, and, flashing out his sword 
from its scabbard, thundered forth, "Will you obey 
orders?" Moritz gloomily gave the order, and started 
on a course which would lead him far away from Hiilsen. 
Frederick returned to the height whence he was watching 
the battle, and presently saw that Moritz was wandering 
away from the point intended. He instantly sent the order, 
*' Half left." Moritz, gloomy in spirit, obeyed exactly, as 


18th June 1757. 

on the drill-ground, and the half left, coming then too late, 
did not take him to Hiilsen's help, but short of him, to a 
point in front of the Austrian army quite separate from 
either of the other attacks. Thus then the projected con- 
centrated attack on the Austrian right had fallen into one 
attack on the right, checked for want of guns, and two 
isolated attacks on the enemy's front, with an inferior 
force and against well-posted heavy batteries, as well as 
numerous infantry. The Prussian troops fought splen- 
didly, but no daring of the men could atone for the bad 
"luck" or bad temper which had thrown the advantages 
away. Yet, Frederick being what he was, and Daun 
oppressed by dread of him, the fate of the battle once 
more hung on the turn of a hair. While the king was in 
the thick of the fight, striving, urging, commanding, Daun 
began to calculate what would become of his army if it 
were driven down the Kamhayek heights into the swampy 
ground at the bottom, and, from calculation, came to order- 
ing a retreat in another direction, to Suchdol. Some of 
the troops were actually retiring in obedience to the order, 
when an -aide-de-camp failed to find General Nostitz, who 
commanded the Saxon horse — a remnant saved from the 
Pirna catastrophe by absence at Warsaw. Colonel Ben- 
kendorf offered to take the order to Nostitz, but, peeping 
into it on the way, thought to have one good stroke first. 
He persuaded Nostitz to the same opinion, and together 
they assembled horse and foot and led them against Hiilsen. 
There was a furious melee, a struggle body to body, and at 
last the wearied Prussians were driven back down hill. 
Both the other attacks had been torn to pieces by the fire 
of the Austrian batteries, and Hiilsen's retreat was signal 
enough. The whole line fell back, wrestling still for a 
time, and the battle of Kolin was at an end. A feeble 


lStli-19th Tune 1757. 
attempt on Daun's part to pursue with cavalry from the 
left was checked by the steadiness of Mannstein's infantry, 
which during the whole affair lost half its strength ; but 
the Austrian general dared not move a single regiment of 
infantry from the defensive position, though he had nearly 
twice the Prussian power. The Prussian cavalry was 
allowed to stand quiet on the field till ten at night, and, 
after keeping his army all night under arms, Daun retired 
next day to his old camp, though he could see the Prussian 
baggage in dire confusion behind Kaurzim and Planian, 
with only one battalion to guard it. Thus are advantages 
thrown away by the timid. 

The Austrians had lost only 8,114 out of 60,000. The 
Prussians 13,773 out of 34,000, all the wounded falling as 
prisoners into the hands of the enemy, together with forty- 
five guns and twenty-two flags* 

rThe Prussian i ; retreat was on Nimburg, to cross the 
Elbe there — a march of fifteen miles. Next morning, 
Frederick saw gather round him the wreck of his 
splendid infantry : Schwerin gone at Prague ; at least 
26,000 men lost in two battles, the second of which snat<;hed 
from before the king's eyes the fruit he had all but gathered 
from the first. He sat moody, writing with a stick in the 
sand. But when- he saw his own first battalion of Life 
Guards pass him, every man known to him by name, and 
could count but 400 left out of the 1,000 who went into battle 
yesterday, his face grew wet with silent tears. Soon rouS' 
ing himself y^ he despatched orders with regard to raising the 
siege of Prague (the first order had been sent from the 
battle field), and himself followed the messengers to head- 
quarters there. The operation was conducted in a masterly 
way, without any loss. Marshal Keith being the lastjj> 
leave. The siege equipment was sent to Dresden.] 


26th.28th Jane 1757. 

Frederick, witli the. Ziscaberg force, moved eastward to 
Alt Lissa to lend a hand to the relics of the Kolin army 
now at Nimburg. Keith moved by Budin to Leitmeritz, 
where the rest of the Prague army joined him on 
the 28th — the king with them — Prince Moritz, with the 
Kolin army, halting at Alt Lissa as a rearguard to check 
Daun, then moving to Jung Bunzlau. The slow Austrians, 
Prince Karl and Daun, after much rejoicing in the Te Deum 
way, concentrated on the Prague battle-field on the 26th, 
having done nothing to hinder the difficult task of the 
king, except with an irregular force under Loudon. 

/!2r heavier loss than that of a battle to the king, fell at 
this time on Frederick, the maa. On the 28th, the day of_ 
the concentration with KeiOTJthe tender mother, Queen- 
Mother as he had christened her, whose breast had been his 
refuge from his childhood's woes, and in whose presence, 
when king, he never stood but hat in hand, died at Berlin. 
When the news reached him at Leitmeritz, he gave vent to 
the keenness of his grief in frequent solitude. Fortunately, 
Mitchell, an Englishman of heart, was there to tell of the 
human suffering of him whom men called " Great," of the 
tears he shed, and his recalling the goodness of his mother, 
her sweetness to him, and her sufferings with and for him. 
It was of this time that he said afterwards, (^I have 
been unha^pier than others because I possessed greater 
sensibility ►"'^ 


CAMPAIGN OF 1757 {continued). — ill fortune pursues 





June-Oct. 1757. 


The battle of Prague had caused a lull in tlie proceedings 
of the various allies, who waited to see " "What next ? " But 
/the king's disaster at Kolin enlivened their spirits, and 
lE^ prepared to inclose the Prussian army in a ring of 
fire>N Even the Reich's army cheered up and arranged to 
jointhe French for operations in North Germany. It was 
commanded by the Prince of Hildburghausen, and had for 
second in commaiid the Prince of Hesse Darmstadt, who 
had lately been one of Frederick's generals, and had a post 
under Keith when he lay on the Weissenberg. Tho 
Reich's army was for field purposes about 25,000 strong, 
and was reinforced a little later by an Austrian force of 
8,000— total 33,000 men. 

(^The French king, urged by the strong will of the Pompa- 
dour and the tears of the Dauphiness, drew from his suffer- 
ing subjects the men and money to equip another army 


8rd-9th July 1757. 

under Soubise, about 30,000 strong. Its mission was to 
unite with the Eeich's army, and reconquer Saxony. It 
was called ** VArmee de la Dauphine." The French army 
already in the field under D'Estr^es captured Embden on 
the 3rd July, and, being about 60,000 strong after dropping 
garrisons, with 10,000 more to be picked up on the way, 
marched on the 9 th July against the Duke of Cumberland, 
who retired before it. 

[Even the Russians took heart of grace at last and crossed 
the border on the 30th June, 37,000 of them to besiege 
Memel, which was bombarded by land and sea, and fell on 
the 5th July ; and 70,000 of them in the Tilsit country, 
where Lehwald, .^Yfi^y weak in men, could not be expected 
to stop them^(.The Swedes declared war and threatened 
Pomerania with 17,000 men, but the,*g¥eatest and nearest 
danger was, for the time, from the side of the Austrians, 
who being now united^ Prince Charles and Daun together, 
'wefe'nianoeuvring in the neighbourhood with 70,000 men. 
Their intention was to avoid the king's force if possible, 
and to attack the old Kolin army which was now under 
command of August Wilhelm, Prince of Prussia, Frederick's 
brother. This prince is chiefly known by his constant 
attitude of opposition to the king, whose measures he 
criticised with little reticence. The opposition of an heir 
apparent is common and of slight detriment in political 
life, perhaps even useful in countries without a parlia- 
mentary government. But opposition in war, combined 
with self-conceit, may be fatal ; and it is strange that 
Frederick should supersede the well-tried Moritz for ask- 
ing whether he had not better retreat on Silesia, and 
should appoint in his place a brother who had shown 
no military capacity, and was not quite loyal in supporting 
the measures of the king. Frederick gave him as a coun- 


Ist.l4th July 1757. 

seller the well-tried Winterfeld, and he had besides, 
Ziethen, Schmettau (his own favourite), Fouquet, Ketzowp 
and Goltz, all more or less jealous of Winterfeld — too 
many counsellors for an indifferent general, 

At^ the end of June the prince was in command at 
Jung Buntzlau. On 1st July the Austrians crossed the 
Elbe above Brandeis ; Nadasti, with clouds of cavalry and 
light troops, being pushed close to the prince's army, who, 
3rd July, retired to Neuschloss, a good position, and nearer 
the king. Kadasti still pressing, the prince fell back, 7th 
July, to Bohm-Leipa, further from the king's force at 
Leitmeritz, but one march nearer his magazines, which were 
at Zittau. , Gabel and other posts on the cross country 
roads which led from Bohm-Leipa to Zittau were held by 
detachments. On the same day the Austrian main army 
arrived at Miinchengratz through Jung Buntzlau, and 
afterwards moved slowly by Liebenau to Niemes, thus 
working round the Prussian left flank. They arrived at 
Niemes on the 14th, and on that day IsTadasti, who pre- 
ceded them, attacked Gabel in the evening, defended by 
General Puttkammer with 3,000 men, the escort of a re- 
turn convoy on its way to Zittau. The cannon-thunder 
was heard at Bohm-Leipa. The magazines at Zittau were 
known to be in danger, and the prince called a council of 
war, that refuge of the timid which " never fights." 

Three courses suggested themselves. First, to retreat on 
Leitmeritz, and brave the angry remonstrances of the king, 
who had already found fault with the constant retirements 
of the prince. Second, the boldest, to march on Gabel and 
help Puttkammer, covering Zittau and the line of retreat 
Once at Gabel, there was a good road to Zittau. Both 
these measures demanded decision. The one might lead to 
^ For these manoeuvres see small map above Battle of Prague. 


16th-24th July 1757. 

censure, the other to a battle. Winterfeld, exhausted by 
his toils, was asleep and did not attend the council of war, 
which, in his absence, decided on a third and the worst pos- 
sible course. The decision was to march on Zittau by- 
circuitous roads, by Kamnitz, Kreywitz, Rumburg, leaving 
Gabel and the rest to their fate. To Gabel direct was only 
jSfteen miles by country road, thence to Zittau another 
fifteen on a high road. The route selected was between 
twice and thrice as far, while the Austrian main body 
would have high road all the way to Zittau. 

The march began in the first morning hours of the 1 6th 
July, and on the 22nd the prince, who, harassed by 
light troops in the hills, lost his pontoons, most ot his 
baggage and food supplies, arrived in sight of Zittau only 
to dnd the Austrian army lying to northward of the place, 
having seized the commanding position of the Eckartsberg. 
He had to look down on a town cruelly bombarded by 
Prince Charles, cruelly because it was not a fortress and 
the bombardment was intended to burn the town, not to 
destroy fortifications, and by no means could he enter 
the place or draw stores from his magazine. A detach- 
ment sent for that purpose next day returned, having 
failed to procure more than a small quantity of food. £T)n i 
the 24th the Prince of Prussia retired on Lobau, leaving ' 
open the^wiy to either Saxony or Silesia, as Prince Charles 
might choose.^ 

This movement has been described to show how generals 
should not make war, and with what difficulties a great com- 
mander has to contend because he cannot infuse his own 
spirit into his subordinates^TTd undo the past was impos- 
sible, but Frederick, as soon as he heard of the ill-judged 
march, started ; leaving Keith to bring on the magazines, 
and Moritz of Dessau, with 10,000 men, to secure the passes 


26th July 1757. 

about Pirna. He arrived at Bautzen on the 29th, would 
not speak to his brother at first, and sent a message that 
he and the generals who had advised him deserved a court- 
martial. The prince asked permission to retire to Dresden, 
which was accorded. He never commanded in the field 
again, and died about a year afterwards, 12th June, 1758, 
partly of chagrin. 

Other bad news reached the king at this time. The 
action known as the battle of Hastenbeck, fought between 
the Duke of Cumberland and D'Estrees, was one of the 
most absurd in history. The Duke, who had been gradually 
retreating, at last took heart and posted himself 
behind Hastenbeck on the 22nd July (the day when the 
Prince of Prussia came in sight of the Austrians at Zittau), 
with his right wing resting on a swamp near the Weser, 
and his left on a wooded knoll. On the 26th D'Estrees 
attacked, knowing only a portion of the duke's position. 
He sent General Chevert against the duke's left on the 
knoll, which was attacked in front with some success. 
General Breitenbach, on the duke's side, was posted with a 
small detachment in a hollow behind the knoll, and, re- 
ceiving no orders, threw himself boldly against Chevert' s 
flank, recovered a battery which had been captured, and 
generally threw Chevert into confusion. With the least 
support to Breitenbach the battle was the duke's, but that 
commander was not at hand, and no one dared to act in his 
absence. Indeed he thought that Breitenbach' s attack was 
a fresh French onslaught, and accordingly ordered a retreat. 
The Brunswick grenadiers who had fought so well wept 
with rage, but obeyed. D'Estrees also ordered retreat 
because of Breitenbach' s charge. So then the unauthorised 
action of a small detachment caused both generals to order 
retreat, only ^the duke's forces were the first to go. 


July 1757. 

^\Tfiey were directed to retire to Haiiover, but, as the bag- 
gage happened to go to Minden by mistake, the whole army 
followed. As there was no strategy in the case, it mattered 
little which way the march turned. Only, Hanover might 
in some sort be said to cover Berlin and lend a hand to 
Frederick, while Minden covered nothing, and the duke, 
once on his way, taught he might as well retire by Bremen 
and Stade to the sea.\ D'Estrees had 72,000 men, the Duke 
of Cumberland 4D,000, but, as neither made any use of the 
bulk of his force, the comparative strength of the two armies 
had nothing to do with success or failure. If the duke had 
gone to sleep or fallen down in a fit, the battle would pro- 

• bably have been a victory to him. The allies lost 3,500 
men, the French 2,000. 

The Due de Kichelieu was sent to supersede D'Estrees, 
and the other Duke, of Cumberland, concluded with him 
the Convention of Kloster-Zeven, by which the Anglo- 
Hanoverian army was to break up and go home without 
molestatio», the French engaging to make no more war in 
those parts. The convention crowned the absurdity of the 
battle, for, though the generals signed it, both govern- 
ments, France first, refused to ratify it. The Duke of 
Cumberland returned to England on the 5th October, to 
hear his father say, " Here is my son, who has ruined me 
and disgraced himself." But, three days after Hastenbeck, 
29th July, Pitt came into power, and held it long enough 
to make English campaigns the reverse of ruinous. Of this 
more hereafter. 

r The first weeks after the collapse of the Prince of 
Prussia were spent by Frederick in striving to draw the 
Austrians into a battle, but they clung to an unassailable 
position on the Eckartsberg, and would not move, even 
though the king divided his army and attacked Nadasti 


25tli Aug. -13th Sept 1757. 

with a division to tempt them. At length, 25th August, 
he marched with one division to see what could be done 
against Soubise and the Reich's army, leaving Bevern and 
Winterfeld to entertain the Austrians in his absence. At 
Dresden he picked up Moritz, who had been in the Pirna 
country, and his combined force now counted 23,000 men, 
with whom to strike a blow against the Dauphiness' army, 
which now lay 170 miles due east, about Got ha and Erfurt. 
If the Convention of Kloster-Zeven were to hold good, the 
D'Estrees army now under Kichelieu might join the Dau- 
phiness' army, and between them meet Frederick with 
150,000 men. All therefore depended upon speed? (' 

During the march, Frederick heard that his best general 
and closest friend, Winterfeld, had been killed in a skirmish, 
7th September, and that Bevern, three days later, had 
retired on Silesia, with Prince Charles and Daun in pursuit 
of him. Bitterer blows fate could not deal him, short of 
losing his beloved ^ilhelmina, who was at the tipae wild with 
anxiety for her brother, and moving heaven and earth to 
bring about a peace with the French._j At her pressing 
request Frederick did write to Richelieu, who tried but 
failed to move the women in Paris. They, more than any 
others, sustained the passion against Prussia, and forced 
money and tears from the people to build up armies. 
Richelieu was not very dangerous to Frederick. He had 
sought command for the sake of what he could make by it, 
and he managed during his one campaign to pay off £50,000 
of debts in Paris. 

The movement of 170 miles from Dresden occupied 
twelve days — 1st to 13th September. It was not con- 
sidered as a forced march, and we may judge from it that 
a fair average marching pace of the Prussian army, in- 
cluding halts and neglecting no precautions, was about 



fourteen miles a day. This is good inarching and manage- 
ment, and compares favourably with the allied concentra- 
tion on Prague in 1741, when the force which had to march 
farthest, and therefore quickest, only covered nine miles 
a day. Arrived at Erfurt, another disappointment awaited 
him. The Dauphiness' army, with all its grand mission, 
and feminine enthusiasm at the back of it, would not fight, 
but retired to the hills in a westerly direction. The king 
sent Moritz to Torgau and Ferdinand to Magdeburg to 
watch Richelieu. Eichelieu pressed slowly on and occupied 
Halberstadt, while Moritz was soon called upon for action 
in quite another direction. 

During the period of forced inactivity which ensued, 
Frederick wrote much, both in prose and verseXHis letters 
to Wilhelmina show that hei. believed the condrEion of his 
affairs to be nearly desperate. In addition to the nearness 
of two armies, each more than double his owp, strength, 
and to the threatened inroads of the Swedes,^ilesia, the _ 
main object of the war, was now invaded by the Austrians, \ 
and, worst of- all, Apraxin, with the Russian army, had 
Prussia herself at his feet. \ The regular Russian troops 
behaved well and were utfder discipline, but the Cossacks 
and Calmucks, then untrained to obedience, committed 
frightful excesses and cruelties. Lehwald, whom the king 
ordered to attack the Russians at all hazards though he had 
only 25,000 to their 80,000, suffered a defeat at Gross- 
Jagersdorf, and the road to Berlin was open to Apraxin 
with his horrible irregulars. All seemed lost but libert^y, 
and the king determined to die ere he would part with 
that. • 

He wrote to Wilhelmina in a lofty strain of melancholy, 
telling her that he would do all he could, but would not 
live to see the catastrophe which would befall his kingdom 



when once the reins of guidance were certainly gone from 
his hands. / Even in this terrible crisis, when blow after 
blow fell onthe loving^^ilhelmina, the ring of her battered 
soul was ever true and noble. Full of effort in his cause, 
moving even Yoltaire to help towards peace, she wrote to 
her brother words of sympathy, hope, and good counsel* 
Amid the trickeries of courts and the cruelties of war, one 
lingers over the true-hearted correspondence between these 
companions of childhood. ) 

Frederick's first letter on these topics was in verse, and 
is well known as the Ejntre cb ma Soeur. It was written 
just before his march to Erfurt, and dated 24th August, 
1757. It begins, " sweet and dear hope of my remaining 
days : O sister, whose friendship, so fertile in resources, 
shares all my sorrows, and with helpful arm assists me in 
the gulf ! " It reviews the past with its combinations, 
successes, failures, and final gatherings against him, and 
apostrophises his people as his most anxious care. " And 
thou, loved people, whose happiness is my charge, it is thy 
lamentable destiny, it is the danger that hangs over thee 
which pierces my soul." He speaks in tender, mournful 
strain of his mother's death, and ends with that defiance of 
the Heavens which has been through all time the note of 
a strong man's last challenge when falling into despair : 
" And if there do exist some gloomy and inexorable Being, 
who allows a despised herd of creatures to go on multiply- 
ing here, he values them as nothing ; looks down on a 
Phalaris crowned, on a Socrates in chains ; on our virtues 
our misdeeds, on the horrors of war, and all the cruel 
plagues which ravage earth, as a thing indifferent to him. 
Wherefore, loved sister, my sole refuge and only haven is 
in the arms of death." 

On the 12th September, "Wilhelmina, in a letter to 


IVtli Sept. 1757. 

Voltaire, whom she is persuading to use his influence for 
peace, says : — 

To me there remains nothing but to follow his destiny if it is 
unfortunate. I have never piqued myself on being a philosopher ; 
though I have made efforts to become so. The small progress I 
made did teach me to despise grandeur and riches ; but I could 
never find in philosophy any cure for the wounds of the heart, 
except that of ending with our miseries by ceasing to live. The 
state I am in is worse than death, I see the greatest man of the 
age, my brother, my friend, reduced to the most frightful ex- 
tremity. I see my whole family exposed to dangers and perhaps 
destruction ; my native country torn by pitiless enemies ; the 
country where I am menaced by perhaps similar misfortune. 
.... You would sigh if you knew the sad condition of Germany 
and Prussia. The cruelties which the Russians commit in that 
latter country make nature shudder. How happy you in your 
hermitage, where you repose on your laurels and can philosophise 
with a calm mind on the deliriums of men 1 

On the 17th September Frederick writes to Wilhelmina 
from near Erfurt : — 

My dearest Sister, — I find no other consolation but in your 
precious letters. May Heaven reward so much virtue and such 
heroic sentiments. 

Since I last wrote to you, my misfortunes have gone on accu- 
mulating. (Here he details the troubles which we know.) 
Happen what may, I am determined, at all risks, to fall upon 
whatever corps of the enemy approaches me nearest. I shall 
even bless Heaven for its mercy if it grant me the favour to die 
Bword in hand. ... A Bavarian elector in his nonage may 
submit to Austria. But is that the example for me to 
follow ? No, dear sister, you think too nobly to give me such 
cowardly advice. Is liberty, that precious prerogative, to be less 
dear to a sovereign in the eighteenth century than it was to 
Koman patricians of old ? . . . . 



Sept. 1757. 

Speaking of Kolin, he says that after the battle he made 

it a point of honour to straighten all that had gone crooked. 

But, no sooner had I hastened here to face new enemies, than 
Winterfeld was beaten and killed near Gorlitz, than the French 
entered the heart of my states, than the Swedes blockaded Stettin. 
Now, there is nothing left for me to do : there are too many 
enemies. Were I even to succeed in beating two armies, the 
third would crush me. The inclosed note (in cipher) will show 
you what I am still about to try : it is the last attempt. . . . 

But it is time to end this long, dreary letter, which treats 
almost of nothing but my own affairs. I have had some leisure, 
and have used it to open on you a heart filled with admiration 
and gratitude towards you. Yes, my adorable sister, if Pro- 
vidence troubled itself about human affairs, you ought to be 
the happiest person in the universe. Your not being so confirms 
me in the sentiments expressed at the end of my Epitre (the 
defiance of Heaven). In conclusion, believe that I adore you, 
and that I would give my life a thousand times to serve you. 

One more letter from Wilhelmina, and a last writing of 
Frederick. Wilhelmina' s was written ,on 15th September, 
two days before the letter of her brother, just quoted. 
Frederick's last was written 9th October, just as a pro- 
spect of hard work was appearing. 

Wilhelmina writes, Baireuth, 15th September, 1757 : — 

My dearest Brother, — Your letter and the one you wrote 
to Voltaire, my dear brother, have almost killed me. What fatal 
resolutions^ Great God ! Ah, my dear brother, you say you love 
me ; and you drive a dagger into my heart. Your Epitre^ which 
I did receive, made me shed rivers of tears. I am now ashamed 
of such weakness. My misfortune would be so great that I 
should find worthier resources than tears. Your lot shall be 
mine : I will not survive either your misfortunes or those of the 
house I belong to. You may calculate that such is my firjn 


Oct. 1757. 

But, after this avowal, allow me to entreat you to look back at 
what was the pitiable state of your enemy when you lay before 
Prague ! It is the sudden whirl of Fortune for both parties. 
The like can occur again, when one is least expecting it, Caesar 
was the slave of pirates ; and he became master of the world. 
A great genius like yours finds resources even when all is lost ,; 
and it is impossible this frenzy can continue. My heart bleeds 
to think of the poor souls in Prussia. What horrid barbarity, 
the detail of cruelties which go on there I I feel all that you feel 
on it, my dear brother. I know your heart and your sensibility 
for your subjects. 

I suffer a thousand times more than I can tell you ; neverthe- 
less, hope does not abandon me. I received your letter of the 
14th. What kindness to think of me, who have nothing to 
give you but a useless affection, which is so richly repaid by 
yours I I am obliged to finish ; but I shall never cease to be, 
with the most profound respect. 



Then for our last quotation let us take Frederick's re- 
marks on "Voltaire's safe advice from his hermitage ; advice 
more likely, one would think, to irritate than soothe the 
king ; for it assumes as quite possible that his kingdom 
may be divided and he himself become a captive. 

On the 9th October Frederick wrote : — 

I know the ennui attending on honours, the burdensome duties, 
the jargon of grinning flatterers, those pitiabilities of every kind, 
those details of littleness, with which you have to occupy your- 
self if set on high on the stage of things. Foolish glory had no 
charm for me, though a poet and a king (remark that he puts 
poet before king). When once Atropos has ended me for ever, 
what will the uncertain honour of living in the temple of Memory 
avail ? One moment of practical happiness is worth a thousand 
years of imaginary in such temple. Is the lot of high people 
so very sweet then? Pleasure, gentle ease, true and hearty 

M 2 


Oct. 1757. 

mirth, have always fled from the great and their peculiar pomps 
and labours. 

No, it is not fickle Fortune that has ever caused my sorrows ; 
let her smile her blandest, let her frown her fiercest on me, I 
should sleep every night, refusing her the least worship. But 
our respective conditions are our law ; we are bound and com- 
manded to shape our temper to the employment we have under- 
taken. Voltaire in his hermitage, in a country where is honesty 
and safety, can devote himself in peace to the life of the 
philosopher as Plato has described it. But, as for me, threatened 
with shipwreck, I must consider how, looking the tempest in the 
face, I can think, can live, and can die as a king. 

Two days after this was written, there arrived a message 
from Dresden, with the news that an Austrian force, left 
behind when Prince Charles and Daun pursued Bevern into 
Silesia, was marching directly upon Berlin. The king sup_ 
posed this to be part of a combined movement, which would 
include the Swedes and probably E-ichelieu's army. He 
ordered Moritz off at once, and followed as soon as he could 
make arrangements. Work seems to have calmed his 
mind ; it is now he who encourages Wilhelmina ; she, 
poor soul, writing desperately that ske has heard he is ill 
or killed. 

The passage through the valley of the shadow of death 
was now over. (There was no combination to attack Berlin. 
The city was entered and placed under slight contribution, 
but the Austrians were gone before Moritz could reach 
them. Apraxin with his Cossacks retired to Russia, pro- 
bably on rumour that the Czarina was dead — an event 
which would place on the throne Paul, a friend and admirer 
of Frederick. Thus Lehwald was released to attend to 
the Swedes. Better than all these smiles of fortune was 
the news brought by Count von Schulenburg, a Hanoverian 
general, who arrived in plain clothes, to the astonishment 




of all, that England had renounced the Convention of 
Kloster-Zeven, would put the army again in the field, and 
requested King Frederick to grant Duke Ferdinand of ( 
Brunswick to be general of the same. It was now that 
Frederick exclaimed to the English envoy, Mitchell : 
" England has taken long to produce a grea^t^ man ; but 
here is one at last ! " That great man was Pitt. 

CAMPAIGN OF 1767 {continued). — battle op rossbach. — 


a.d. 1757. 

• 80th Oct. 1757. 

The raid on Berlin, barren as it was in practical result, 
caused great rejoicing among all Frederick's enemies. The 
Dauphiness' army was dii-ected to draw 15,000 men from 
Kichelieu's command, and, under pressing orders from 
Versailles, advanced as far as Leipzig. Keith, who held 
the town with a small force, refused to evacuate it, saying 
that he would burn the suburbs. In the moment of hesi- 
tation news came to Soubise that the king was at hand. 
Strong as he was in men, the French general fell back, and 
it seemed as if the terrible game of delay were about to be 
played again. In such a game Frederick, whose only hope 
lay in staking his all on a battle, could not but lose. 

On the 30th October Frederick, with his advanced guard, 
arrived at Liitzen, Keith and Duke Ferdinand following 
with the main body and rear guard. Moritz also had come 
in from his Berlin trip. On the enemy's part, Broglio, 
second son of the old marshal, with 15,000 men from 
Kichelieu's army, was at Halle, guarding the bridge there ; 
Soubise at Merseburg, guarding that bridge; Hildburg- 
hausen was at Weissenfels, ready to dispute the passage 


81st Oct. -4th Nov. 1757. 

there. Thus an army nearly three times the size of the 
king's chose to divide itself and act on the defensive instead 
of attacking him."^ 

At eight o'clock in the morning of the 31st, Frederick, 
with part of the army, appeared before Weissenfels. The 
troops left to defend the eastern position were soon over- 
powered and retreated over the river, burning the bridge 
behind them so hurriedly that 400 men had not time to 
escape, and remained as prisoners. The Prussians con- 
structed another bridge during the night, about a mile 
further down the river, and made good their footing on 
the western bank. Keith, with the other half of the army, 
tried the bridges at Merseburg and Halle, but found them 
strongly occupied. The Dauphiness' army, instead of con- 
tinuing to hold these bridges with a moderate force and 
throwing the bulk against the king, burned them, and 
actually ceased to dispute the passage of the Saale, concen- 
trating at and near the village of Mucheln, where they 
placed themselves awkwardly in an ill-chosen defensive 
position. The Prussians repaired all three bridges, and 
crossed without further opposition. 

In the early morning of the 4th Frederick attempted to 
attack tho enemy, but found that they had shifted their 
position and were well posted for defence. Knowing that 
the Dauphiness' army was far from its supplies, he felt 
sure it must move, and prudently awaited a better chance 
for attack. His camp also was now shifted a little, and 
the army lay with its left on Rossbach, right on Bedra, 
about two miles from the allied right wing. 

To understand the battle of Rossbach ^ it is necessary to 
know that the village so called stands on a lumpy elevation, 

^ See map above Battle of Rossbach. 
• See plan of Battle of Rossbach. 


5th Nov. 1757r 
from which the allied camp, lying lower, could be seen. 
Behind the Prussian camp is a dip in the ground, on the 
other side of which rises the Janus Hill, and, a little 
further, the Polsen Hill...- There is nothing steep enough 
to hinder the movemerrts of all arms, and the country is 
singularly destitute of trees, hedges, or brushwood — just 
sHghtly undulating ground, completely open. The water- 
courses, as given on the map, will show, however, that the 
highest part of the low swell of land takes in Rossbach as 
well as the Janus and Polzen Hills, — water-courses, but 
seldom water, as the rain soon sinks into the sandy soil 
and forms no obstacle to movement of troops. 

On the morning of the 5th November, the Dauphiness' 
army began to work out a very remarkable idea which 
had come into the head of its commander. This was no 
less Mian that he would start in full view of the king, 
work round the Prussian left, attack that together with 
the rear and even front at the same time, and destroy the 
whole force, probably capturing the king. To do this it 
was necessary to catch the most subtle general in Europe 
asleep in open day. The advantage of placing an army on 
the enemy's communications is undoubted, provided always 
that we can beat him there ; otherwise, if we are close to 
him, the result" may be disastrous. Clearly, Soubise hoped 
to conquer and capture Frederick. An Austrian party 
destroyed that morning the temporary bridge at Weissen- 
fels — Herren-Muhle bridge it was called — and so strong 
was the belief at Versailles in the capture of Frederick, 
that the Duchess of Orleans, forgetful of her monarch's 
presence, burst out like a school-girl with the words, " At 
last, then, I shall see a real king." 

Frederick, hearing that the Dauphiness* army was 
getting into motion — a long process with it — ordered all 



6th N"ov. 1757. 

the cavalry to saddle. Seidlitz, a rising man then, com- 
manded the regular regiments; Mayer, the light horse. 
The infantry was also ordered to be in readiness to move, 
but as yet the tents were left standing. A body of French, 
chiefly cavalry, advanced, under St. Germain, to the left 
front of the Prussians and threatened the camp. The 
main body of the enemy got itself into column and marched 
by its right through Grost and Schevenroda. Frederick 
watched them from the top of the Herrenhaus at Rossbach. 
About 9 A.M. nearly half the army was through Grost, and, 
judging from previous experience, would go to Freiburg 
towards its magazines. At noon the king sat down to 
dinner and remained two hours at table. About 2 p.m. one 
of his adjutants, Gaudi by name, rushed into the room, 
exclaiming that the enemy were turning to the left at 
Pettstadt. Frederick answered with a soldier's rough 
joke, having reference to the effects of fear on the diges- 
tive parts. He mounted quietly to the roof, and there saw 
plainly that the allied army was attempting to march 
round his left in a long column. (Th e time had come then. 
That day it would be given to him to " look tjie tempest 
in the face, to think, to live or to die as a king/^J 

His orders were promptly issued. About 2.30 p.m. the 
army had the command to prepare for marching. By three 
o'clock it was in movement, tents having been struck and 
packed in the interval. The cavalry, 4,000 strong, ready, 
beforehand, was then disappearing in the hollow behind the 
camp on its way to the Janus and Polzen Hills. The infantry 
followed at the double. Thus, in one hour from the first 
news of the real allied movement, Frederick had altered all 
his plans, communicated them to his army encamped ; that 
army had struck tents, packed all its equipage, and was 
■ ' See Frederick's answer to Voltaire's dissuasion from death (p. 164). 


5th Nov. 1757. 

swiftly rushing forward to deliver a blow which is one of 
the most famous in history. A French officer who was 
present describes this rapid movement as like a scene at 
the opera. . The whole army disappeared in the hollow from 
the view of the Dauphiness' army, and Soubise, fearing that 
it might escape him by retreat through Merseburg, gave 
orders to quicken the pace of his own forces. Thus the 
two armies were racing for an unknown goal, both in 
column. Only there were these differences. The plan of 
the allies to catch the king napping had failed ; their 
judgment of his intentions was now at fault ; his 
army was better trained and speedier than theirs, and 
Seidlitz took care to keep his flanking parties on the top 
of the hills whence they could see the enemy. This pre- 
caution was neglected by the allies, who blundered along, 
not informed of the progress made by the Prussian 

In those days of stiff, square movements, even more than 
now, the head of a long column was for all practical 
purposes the same as the flank in line. A Prussian battery 
of eighteen guns, four of which were twelve-pounders, estab- 
lished itself on the Janus Hill, and smote the head of the 
allied cavalry and infantry with its fire. Seidlitz pressed on 
till his scouts gave notice that he was ahead of the enemy. 
Then he wheeled up, about 3.30 o'clock, advanced to the 
top of the Polzen Hill, and, seeing the movement favour- 
able, lost not a moment in waiting for orders but thundered 
down the slope on the flank of the allied horse which were 
leading the column. There was no advanced guard. Four 
times did Seidlitz go through and through this mass, which 
had not even time to form up. Only two regiments 
(Austrian) opposed any front at all to the attack. In half 
an hour the whole allied cavalry was ruined, and in its 


5th Nov. 1757. 

flight disordered the advancing infantry. Finally, it fled 
towards Freiburg, and fought no more that day. ( Seidlitz 
steadied his squadrons, and reformed them in a hollow near 

{ Prince Henry came up quickly with seven battalions 
to support Seidlitz, and attacked the leading regiments 
of the allied column, which was endeavouring to form 
up to its left. Crushed by artillery and infantry fire, 
the Reich's troops and the French melted away. A 
Wiirtemberg dragoon, writing of this time, says : — " The 
artillery tore down whole ranks of us ; the Prussian 
musketry did terrible execution." In vain was an attempt 
made to deploy on the rear of the column, under the pro- 
tection of the remaining French cavalry, not yet engaged. 
Seidlitz rushed out of Tagwerben hollow, and crushed the 
futile endeavour. Infantry, cavalry, artillery, all were 
ruined. The army became a disorganised wreck, and fled 
from the field of battle. Only St. Germain remained 
intact, to cover, in some sort, the retreat, though he was 
soon broken by Mayer's light horse. The rear of the 
Prussian army, now become its right, had been refused, 
and was never engaged. By a stroke of military capacity 
acting against an ill-led enemy, from 50,000 to 60,000 men 
had been defeated by 4,000 horse and seven battalions, 
supported by eighteen guns well pushed forward. The 
Prussian loss was only 165 killed, 376 wounded. The 
allies lost in killed and wounded 3,000, prisoners 5,000, 
guns about seventy, and many other trophies. 

(The battle of Rossbach is full of instruction. It shows 
how helpless is an army, imperfectly trained and com- 
manded, against a skilful general with a force inferior in 
number but well in hand. It serves to teach us how vain 
ifc is to rely on numbers alone, no matter how brave the 



men may be ; for the French were certainly no cowards. 
It points, in short, a moral which all Englishmen should 
lay to heart, when they think in serious moments of 
possible battles fought in their own country, and with the 
mixed troops at present availaBIdk 

The essence of Frederick's manoeuvre was, as usual, the 
attack in obliqiie order ; for the front of the long allied 
column may be considered as its right flank ; and the king's 
parallel, but swifter, march alongside of his opponents was 
in principle like the march round the front at Prague or 
Kolin to gain the flank. The attack of Seidlitz, without 
waiting for orders, showed the born cavalry commander, 
and there is a fine lesson, applicable even to-day, in his 
retirement to the Tagwerben hollow to reorganise ,hi3 
ranks, and his subsequent charge from it at a critical 
moment. (There is hardly a finer example in history of the 
energetic action of the three arms, each doing its own 
work, but all closely supporting each othej^J T he Prussi an 
cavalry and infantry had always done their work well, but 
,the artillery, hitherto somewhat neglected, now began to 
take its piac6 as' an independent arm, acting with audacity 
'and decision. It first attacked with its fire the allied 
cavalry attempting to form up to withstand Seidlitz. It 
then crushed the allied artillery near the head of the 
column, and prevented it from acting against the Prussian 
horse or foot -^ and it next joined with the seven battalions 
to annihilate the resistance of the infantry. Its first fire 
was the signal for Seidlitz to charge, it prevented the for- 
mation of the allied guns, and, when these were swept 
away by the cavalry rout, it never ceased its fire against 
the infantry. It was subsequently reinforced on its right by a 
battery the position of which is not known exactly (Carlyle 
does not even mention it) ; and it prepared the second 


26th Oct. .22nd Nov. 1757. 

victory of Seidlitz by firing against a part of the allied 
infantry which was too distant from the Prussian seven 
battalions for them to have any effect upon it. 

Decker says of it — " We may say, with all assurance, that 
the success of the day belonged to the artillery. If, as at 
Kolin, it had remained inactive, the enemy's infantry could 
have formed and advanced ; its defeat would not have been 
so complete, and the success of the (Prussian) cavalry would 
have been less brilliant." ^ 

St. Germain, writing of it afterwards, declares :— " The 
first cannon-salvo decided our rout and our shame." 

The whole allied army was, as it were, burst asunder 
over a radius of forty-five miles. The Keich's part of it 
went home quite disorganised. (The French rushed madly 
towards their frontier, plundering- as they went, and re- 
crossed the Khine. Kichelieu also retired, and Duke 
Ferdinand, taking charge of the Anglo-Hanoverian forces, 
soon brought them into a state of order and good heart 
unknown to them when commanded by the Duke of Cum- 
berland. England blazed with bonfires, and voted reinforce- 
ments, which, in the course of the next year, joined to the 
amount of 20,000 men, of whom 12,000 arrived in August^ 

Frederick at once took measures to succour his army in 
Silesia, where Severn had blundered, weakening himself by 
detachments instead of delivering a good stroke at the 
enemy. Breslau was threatened, Schweidnitz besieged. 
The trenches were opened 26th October, and the place 
capitulated on the 14th November, handing over to the 
enemy g^ eat wealth of stores and 30,000^. in hard cash. 
Prince Charles, with Daun as second in command, had now 
80,000 men, and beat Bevern at the battle of Breslau, 
November 22nd. The duke had imitated Austrian tactics, 
1 Decker's Seven Years' War, French Edition, 1839, p. 115. 


13th Nov.-3rd Dec. 1757. 

entrenched, and fought a defensive battle, with the result 
that he had to retire in the night, leaving eighty guns and 
8,000 killed and wounded in the hands of the enemy. 
Bevern was himself captured on the second day after- 
wards, having Hil4en into an enemy's outpost, — some saidj^ 
intentionally /Breslau fell into the hands of the AustriansTID 

On the 13th iTovember, a week after Ross bach, Frederick 
marched from Leipzig with about 13,000 men, and arrived 
at Parch witz — say 170 miles — on the 28th. He placed 
Ziethen in command of the beaten Breslau army, and 
ordered a concentration at Parchwitz, which took place 
on the 3rd of December. That night he spoke to his 
chief officers words of flame, and kindled in them and in 
the army the same fiery spirit which animated his own 
breast. He concealed nothing, but said that he meant to 
attack the Austrians, '* nearly thrice our strength," and 
conquer or perish. His concluding words were : " Now, 
good night, gentlemen ; shortly we shall have either beaten 
the enemy, or w^ never see one another again." The same 
night he went through his army, visiting each regiment in 
turn, talking famiharly with the men. Some of these 
conversations have come down to our time, as related by 
those who heard them. There were rough camp jokes ; the 
king would say how strong the Austrians were behind their 
entrenchments, and the men reply, " And if they had the 
devil in front and all round them, we will knock them out ; 
only thou lead us on." " Good night, Fritz," was always 
the parting word of the soldiers to the general they trusted. 
This was Frederick's method with his officers and men ; it 
was also Marlborough's and Napoleon's. Who can find a 
better bond than this kind of familiarity, which goes well 
with the sternest discipline % 

Breslau had fallen without firing a shot after Bevern' s 


4th-5th Dec. 1757. 

defeat, and the Austrians lay well entrenched in a strong 
position behind Sehweidnitz Water, covering Breslau. A 
council of war was held, and Prince Charles was persuaded 
by the bolder spirits to leave this position, cross Schweidnitz 
Water, so as to make sure of a battle, they being 80,000 
strong to Frederick's 30,000 or thereabouts. Nor could 
any fault be found with this determination, provided it 
were carried out in full, and the Austrian army led with 
skill and energy to attack an opponent about a third its 
strength. But, as we shall see, they did but leave a posi- 
tion of great strength for one less formidable with a river 
behind, and sat down there to await attack. Their new 
position 1 was fairly strong, resting the right on bogs about 
Nypern, the left on a hill behind Sagschiitz, protected by 
abatis. The army lay across the road to Breslau. Its 
front was covered with redoubts and villages prepared 
for defence, Leuthen being one of them. On arrival in 
their new position, they heard that the Prussians had com- 
menced proceedings by seizing on the 4th an Austrian 
bakery, near Neumarkt, where was found a complete set of 
bread rations hot from the oven, no small boon in the cold 
of December — a Sunday treat to the Prussian veterans. 

On Monday, the 5th, early in the morning, Frederick 
marched to attack, riding as usual with the advanced guard. 
At Borne he found drawn up across the road a line of 
cavalry, the flanks of which vanished in the haze of early 
dawn. He attacked at once, and destroyed or captured the 
force, which proved to be General Nostitz with three Saxon 
regiments of horse, placed as an advanced post to gain 
tidings of any Prussian advance. This affair was important, 
for the remnants of the cavalry galloped back to the 
Austrian right wing, and caused Count Lucchesi, wlio 
^ See plan above Battle of Leuthen, 



commanded there, to believe that the king's attack would 
be directed against his part of the field. Halting his 
troops, the king rode on to the highest knoll in front, 
whence he could see clearly the whole Austrian army drawn 
up. He knew the country well, and decided that the Aus- 
trian left wing was more open to attack than the right. 
Once more he had the usual inert Austrian line in front of 
him, trusting to purely defensive tactics, though nearly 
thrice his strength. The occasion was favourable for the 
oblique attack, and, as the main body came up, he formed it 
in two columns, which he directed upon the Austrian right 
in such order that when the companies wheeled up to the 
left, they would form two lines facing the Austrian right 
obliquely to Prince Charles's line. A chain of slight emi- 
nences concealed the movement, like the Janus and Piilzen 
Hills at Rossbach, and the Austrian commander committed 
the error of yielding to repeated solicitations from Lucchesi, 
who declared that, unless supported, he could not be re- 
sponsible for a lost battle. The cavalry of the reserve, and 
part of that on the left wing were sent to the right, Daun 
himself accompanying them. Thus, at the critical time, 
the left wing, which was to bear the first attack, sent part 
of its cavalry five or six miles away. 

When the Prussian right wheeled up and advanced 
suddenly over the knolls near Sagschiitz, Nadasti, who 
commanded the Austrian left, had the courage and initia- 
tive to send his weakened cavalry at once against Ziethen's 
horse, which first threatened attack. Ziethen was moving 
up hill, had his right flank in the air, and was driven back ; 
but a detachment of infantry which accompanied him forced 
the Austrian cavalry to halt and retire. 

It was about one o'clock when the Prussian advanced 
guard, which now formed the right of the line, came into 


Stli Dec. 1757. 

action. Ten of the heavy 12-pounders from Glogau had 
been brought up with difficulty, and soon destroyed the 
Austrian abatis, leaving the ground open for the infantry 
attack, which the guns potently assisted. Nadasti's troops 
were pushed out of a fir wood near Sagschiitz, and forced 
back thence, as well as from the positions further to their 
left. Fourteen guns, which he had unwisely put behind 
his infantry, were useless in the melee, and were carried in 
the rush of the Prussian advanced guard. The whole of 
the Austrian left now reeled back on the centre, and as 
more Prussian troops pressed on, the crowd of vanquished 
threw into confusion all the reinforcements sent to their 
help. The Prussian advanced guard was moving down in 
rear of the original Austrian line ; the rest of the king's 
army pressed athwart the front line of Prince Charles's 
strong but heavy force. 

And now was shown one of the disadvantages of the 
Austrian movement over the Schweidnitz Water, and the 
value of Frederick's promptitude. At the battle of Breslau 
Prince Charles had 320 guns ; at the battle of Leuthen only 
210 pieces, all the heavy field artillery having been left on 
the other side of the river. These were not numerous 
enough to guard well the long Austrian front, and were 
scattered so as to be of no use when wanted. Messengers 
were sent in hot haste to call in battalions and batteries to 
defend Leuthen. As Nadasti fell back nearly due north, 
and Lucchesi swung round from north nearly southward, 
a new front was established opposite the Prussian advanc- 
ing lineiBut the great advantage of a first crushing blow 
was on the side of the king, and that other advantage of 
the initiative, namely, that he had a plan and knew where 
his troops were while it was being carried outij__ To the 
Austrians, on the contrary, all seemed confusion^^^' 


5th Dec. 1757; 

A description of the attempt made by the reserve to 
change the fortunes of the day is given by the Prince de 
Ligne, who was in one of the regiments which were sent 
for to defend Leuthen. The troops could not deploy, and 
stood from thirty to a hundred deep, played upon by case- ' 
shot from the guns, the 12-pounders having come up, and 
by the fire of Prussian infantry at close quarters. Leuthen 
churchyard was long defended, and the king had to bring 
the left of his army and all his reserves into action. There 
was hesitation among the Prussians attacking the church- 
yard, till Major Mollendorf, without orders from the colonel 
commanding his battalion, called for volunteers to follow 
him, dashed in the gate heedless of a murderous fire, and 
cleared the stronghold of its defenders. The windmills 
were still disputed for a while, but were carried by the 
Prussian left wing. 

At this moment the Prussian left seemed to be exposed, 
and Lucchesi, who had arrived with the Austrian right, 
thought that he saw a chance by attacking it. He was 
strong in cavalry, and led a charge upon it. But Frederick 
had been mindful of this danger, and had ordered Driesen, 
who commanded the cavalry of the left, to devote himself 
to the one object of covering the exposed flank. Driesen 
wisely kept his troopers concealed in a hollow and let 
Lucchesi, with the Austrian horse, pass him ; then thun- 
dered down upon their rear. Caught between the fire of 
infantry and guns in front and Driesen's cavalry charge 
behind, the astonished Austrians wavered, broke, and 
spread themselves in disorder over the field, leaving bare, 
in their turn, the flank of Lucchesi's infantry. Against 
this flank Driesen charged, aud crushed it into ruinous 
heaps of men without further hope or courage. Lucchesi 
was killed in the cavalry charge, and the whole Austrian 


6th Dec. 1757. 

army was now a mere mass of fugitives. Some small 
attempt was made to stand at Saara, but the troops dis- 
solved and melted away, streaming over the four bridges 
at Stabelwitz, Lissa, Goldsmieden, and Hermannsdorf , under 
the swords of the pursuing cavalry. 

The battle had lasted three hours, and in that short time 
an army of 80,000 men at least had been totally defeated 
by one 30,000, some say 32,000, strong. The sun was now 
down, and Frederick, followed by an escort of only three 
battalions which volunteered for the service, rode on to 
Lissa. The place was still full of the enemy, and when the 
king entered the Schloss he found it occupied by Austrian 
officers about to take quarters there for the night. He 
might have been captured, but his gift of reading his 
adversaries' minds served him in good stead. " Bon soir, 
messieurs ; is there still room % " said he, with a smile, and 
the Austrians were only too glad to slip away in safety. 
This is an example of the over- boldness which the king 
often showed. Sometimes his talents extricated him from 
difficulties into which he uselessly plunged, sometimes he 
suffered the due results of over-confidence. On this night 
he had come out of storms of bullets, having often been in 
the thick of the fight. His star was in the ascendant, and 
he judged rightly that his enemies were crushed in spirit. 
Lissa was soon cleared out, but was still a strange place 
for the king to sleep in, seeing that only a small river 
divided him from the Austrian army. 

The battle of Leuthen had been fought on the strict 
principles of Frederick's military art, principles which 
enchained the minds of strategists and tacticians for many 
years, and have hardly yet been completely driven 
out by newer methods suitable for newer weapons. But 
there is always something more than tactical forms in the 

N 2 


5th.6th Dec. 1757. 

winning of battles. Above all things, the troops must have 
confidence in their general. We have already heard the 
king's animated harangue to his officers two days before 
the battle, and his friendly talk with the men. In the 
midst of his oblique march, when swiftness and sudden 
attack were all important, some of the regiments were 
heard singing in chorus a hymn which prayed the Deity 
to grant them zeal, skill, and success. His staff asked if 
they should order the sound to cease. "By no means," 
said the king, and added, " with men like these, don't you 
think I shall have victory to-day?" Again, at night, 
when he lay at Lissa, and from both sides of the river a 
smart fire was kept up, the Prussian troops at Saara, 
weary as they were, advanced to Lissa, ready to give aid 
if required. In the solemn night, amid the dead and 
wounded, a single tenor voice rang out, chanting a psalm 
of praise. Twenty thousand throats burst into grateful 
music, and uplifted in the keen air under the dome of 
heaven their song of thankfulness : — 

Nun danket alle Gott 

Mit Herzen Mund und Handen, 

Der Grosse Dinge thut 

An Uns und alien Enden. 

This was the Prussian Te Deum for the victory, and, like 
the prayer before the battle, it was delivered while the men 
were at their work as soldiers, without loss of any time, 
without need of temple, priest, or incense \ Ho t by military 
forms alone, however good, but by cultivating a true and 
steady flame of trust and large enthusiasm among his men, 
were won the chief victories of Frederick the Great. ?^id, 
even when he failed, his men still believed in him and 
recovered themselves quickljj 



The Prussians lost in killed 1,141 men, and in wounded 
5,118, with 85 prisoners made in the first passages of 
the battle. 

The Austrian loss at the time or picked up afterwards 
was 3,000 killed, 7,000 wounded, 21,000 prisoners; that is, 
a loss of as many men as the Prussians took into the 
battle, together with 51 flags and 116 guns. Prince Charles 
retreated as best he could by Schweidnitz and Landshut 
to Koniggratz, Ziethen sticking close to him and capturing 
2,000 prisoners. The remnants which arrived at Konig- 
gratz were only 37,000 strong, having left 17,000 in 
Breslau, who surrendered after tw^elve days' resistance. 
The Austrian garrison at Liegnitz was allowed to with- 
draw. Of all Maria Theresa's reconquests in Silesia there 
remained to her now only Schweidnitz, and that fortress 
fell in the middle of the following April. 

The campaign of 1757 was the most interesting in the 
Seven Years' "War. It opened with success, then presented 
an example of failure in the oblique attack at Kolin. After 
that battle all went wrong, and a meaner man must have 
despaired. Berlin itself was threatened and even entered by 
the enemy, whose armies seemed to be gradually closing 
round the defenders of Prussia. " At last we shall see a 
king in Paris " as a prisoner. But Rossbach showed the 
coolness and resource of Frederick as well as the quality of 
his soldiers, the cavalry and artillery especially distinguish- 
ing themselves. Still Silesia was occupied by the Austrians, 
and must needs be saved. Frederick passed swiftly to its 
aid, reanimated the army beaten at Breslau, and fought 
at Leuthen a battle in which occurred the most perfect 
illustration of the attack in oblique order. As an exhibi- 
tion of character and military talent combined the cam- 
paign of 1757 is one of the most remarkable in history. 



CONVOY. — Frederick's march to koniggratz. — he goes 


SAXONY. — Frederick's return to Dresden. — marches 



A.D. 1758. 


The successes of the Prussian army had raised the Pro- 
testant Champion, as Frederick was now called, to great 
favour in England. The country expressed it in various 
forms ; among others, by a readiness to grant subsidies. 
Before the ten years' peace, England paid Austria to put 
down Frederick. She was now paying Frederick to put 
down Austria and France. The people who had called him 
a monster now lauded his name to the skies. Pitt — his firm 
friend — was now in power, and a new Subsidy Treaty was 
made by which Frederick was to have £670,000 annually to 
be spent on the maintenance and increase of his army for 
the common object. The previous treaty had promised an 
English fleet in the Baltic, but the promise had not been 
kept, because the Czarina informed King George that such 
a step would be considered as a declaration of war. 
Hitherto, in the sort of three-cornered duel which existed, 


16th Jan. 175S. 

England's ally was at war with Russia, but England 
herself not. 

The rulers of Austria, France and Russia, were furious 
as ever, and the Czarina not only tried Apraxin by court- 
martial for evacuating Prussia, but ordered Fermor, who 
was appointed in his place, to push across the frontier at 
once, regardless of winter frosts. He did so with 31,000 
men on the 16th January, 1758, and occupied East Prussia, 
which he annexed to Russia, forcing the various function- 
aries to swear fealty to the Czarina. Frederick never 
forgave them. The main Russian army remained behind, 
and did not become dangerous to the king till the 

France changed her war minister, the wily veteran 
Belle-Isle accepting the seals of that office. Maria Theresa 
relieved Prince Karl of the command of the Austrian 
army, and appointed Daun in his stead. All the nations 
which were banded against the king renewed their arma- 
ments, and prepared to assail him with fresh energy, 
France being paymaster. 

If at this, or any other time, during the Seven Years* 
War, the Russians had combined with the Swedes and 
marched with determination upon Berlin, nothing could 
have saved Prussia. But the two powers were jealous of 
each other, and neither acted with full vigour. The 
Swedes always issued from Stralsund about 20,000 strong, 
sometimes more, sometimes less, but invariably late in the 
season. They then moved on slowly some 100 miles or so, 
resisted by Prussian militia and a regiment or two of 
regulars till, towards autumn, Frederick could spare rein- 
forcements which pushed them back over the river Peene, 
and generally besieged them in Stralsund. There they 
remained half-starved till the thaw came, and allowed 


13th March-16th Iprfl 1758. 

ships to .enter with provisions. The threats from the 
Russian side relieved them in spring, and each year the 
same routine, or nigh to it, was gone through. The details 
of th^ir useless proceedings are not worth relating. 
^In the past year England had mismanaged her naval 
and military affairs. The attempted descent upon Roche- 
fort in the autumn had been blundered ; Lord Loudoun 
failed in America, showing no energy ; Abercromby was 
little brighter ; but Pitt had his eyes upon two better 
men, Amherst and Wolfe!] The great English statesman 
held his power from the~people, the court never having 
favoured him ; and he was ready to accept and use talent 
wherever he found it. Duke Ferdinand was now in com- 
mand in the west, and Frederick was easy as to affairs in 
that quarter where the French had not recovered from their 
beating at Rossbach. 

r^^aving, therefore, no fear of what France, or Russia, 
or S^weden would do in the spring, the king determined 
to try once more a bold stroke at the heart of Austria. / 
His field army counted 145,000 men, of whom 53,000 con- 
stituted the Silesian army, many of them Austrian 
deserters. The toils and anxieties of the past year had 
told upon his health, but a winter in Breslau had refreshed 
him, and he was again full of vigour. His first stroke 
was the re-capture of Schweidnitz. The siege began on 
1st April, and on the night of the 15th — 16th, the key of 
the place, Galgen Fort, was carried by storm. The 
Austrians surrendered. The garrison had been reduced to 
4,900 from 8,000, and they yielded up 51 guns and £700 
in money, with all the stores which they had found or 
brought there. 

Daun arrived at Koniggriitz 13th March, and fell to 
entrenching himself as usual. The town was not then a 


25th April-5th May 1758. 

fortress, and Daun, who had more the heart of an en- 
gineer than a tactician, sat down in a position which he 
made impregnable. He knew that Frederick was in the 
country about Landshut, whence Fouquet and Ziethen had 
been detached before the siege of Schweidnitz, to clear the 
Austrian light troops out of the Glatz and Troppau neigh- 
bourhoods respectively. He expected that the king would 
advance southward directly against him, and, accordingly, 
he fortified positions at the mouths of all the passes. 
Instead of this he found that the Prussians marched, 1 9th- 
25th April, to Neisse, and towards Jagerndorf, April 27th. 
Seeing this, he judged that the king must be about to 
attack Bohemia from the east, and, to cover the province, 
he left his grand fortified camp near Kbniggratz and 
mo;v^ed to Leutomischl, veiled by a cloud of light troops. 
f^Vii Frederick's intentions were far otherwise. His plan was 
tt> capture Olmiitz and make it a base of operations against 
Yienna;:^ He had with him from 30,000 to 40,000 men ; 
Prince Henry commanded in Saxony another 30,000, and 
would, the king hoped, be able to cross the Metal Mountains 
and join him, while Mayer, with his Free Corps, deranged all 
the plans of the E-eichs army by capturing magazines and 
striking rapid blows. C^i Olmiitz could be captured quickly, 
an advance into the fat corn lands of Moravia, hitherto 
unexhausted by campaigns, would enable Frederick to feed 
his army and threaten Vienna ; thus drawing away from 
home, and eveiL from Bohemia, all danger on the part of 
Austrian troops„.-> 

Frederick marched from Neisse with the first column, 
Keith followed with the siege army. The king's force, on 
arrival, was posted at Aschmeritz, Neustadt, Starnau, 
Prossnitz, and Sternberg. Daun arrived at Leutomischl 
5th May, and formed posts at Nickels, Konitz (where was 



Loudon), Muglitz, Friedland, and Lobnick. Besides these, 
Deville covered the road to Brunn. 

One great advantage possessed by Austria was her 
irregular troops, by which her armies were always covered 
and her enemies annoyed. These were warlike men; 
Hungarians, Bosnians, Croats, Dalmatians, Tyrolese, and 
even Italians. They formed chains of posts and even 
strong detachments between the Austrian camp and the 
enemy. Their officers were skilled in choosing positions 
for defence and in movements to harass an enemy. The 
system of using these irregular troops foreshadowed the 
modern use of outposts, and was in many respects more 
complete. No tents were needed to guard these hardy 
warriors from sun and rain. They generally fed them- 
selves. Their enemy could hardly move a battalion 
without observation from their curious eyes, while, on 
the other hand, their net of posts and wandering parties 
swept up any small detachments which might be sent out 
by their enemy to gain information. Hardly fit to con- 
tend with large forces, they felt no shame in retreating on 
more solid supports. Thus they furnished a cheap means 
of procuring information and denying it to an enemy ; 
and though the amenities of modern warfare would now 
render the use of such a force in Europe an anachronism, 
the Austrian irregulars showed, on the whole, a better 
temper, during the Seven Years' War, than the Cossacks 
of Russia. Under Nadasti at first, and later, under 
Loudon, they were taught to hold their ground some- 
times even against the trained troops of Frederick. Their 
organisation and use might well be studied by English 
volunteers and yeomanry, who, in case of invasion, might 
perform similar duties, avoiding the rough habits of these 
Austrian guerillas. 


22nd-2Sth June 1758. 

The siege of Olmiitz languished. The first parallel had 
been opened too far from the place, which was well de- 
fended. But the chief difficulty was the transport of 
stores over the ninety miles of mountain road which had 
to be traversed between Troppau and Olmiitz, through a 
country infested by the Austrian light troops. The first 
Austrian success was the throwing a reinforcement of 
1,100 picked grenadiers into the besieged town on the 
22nd June. Still, it seemed that Olmiitz must fall, and 
the last stages were only postponed till the arrival of an 
important convoy of 3,000 waggons, which was to leave 
Troppau on the 26th June, escorted by 7,000 men under 
Colonel Mosel. So much depended on this convoy that 
Ziethen was sent from Olmiitz with a strong force to assist 
in covering the march. The convoy started at the time 
expected, but the country waggoners straggled so that 
the 27th had to be made a day of rest. This was fatal. 
Loudon, with a force of some 12,000 men or more, was 
on the watch for it from the west, and Ziskowitz with 
another force from the east. Daun had manoeuvred so as 
to deceive the king and make him expect a battle. On 
the 28th the convoy began to struggle forward again, 
having already lost or sent back nearly a third of the 
waggons, which broke down from the terrible state of 
the roads. As the advanced guard moved slowly forward, 
it perceived Loudon drawn up to oppose the passage of 
the defile between Bautsch and Altliebe. Colonel Mosel 
attacked at once, and drove back Loudon with his Croats 
and Hungarians. The convoy reached NeudorH' that 
night, where Mosel was overjoyed to find Ziethen, who 
had come so far to meet him. The state of affairs was 
critical. The convoy was again in a jumbled condition 
from bad roads and dread of the enemy. A whole day 


30th June 1758. 

more had to be spent in restoring some sort of order, and 
the march began again on the 30th, Ziethen and Mosel 
knew only too well that in front of them was the worst 
defile at Domstadtl. All precautions were taken, but 
when the head of the column, with some 120 waggons, 
was fairly in the defile, it came under fire of artillery. 
Horses were killed, waggons disabled, and the road was 
soon blocked. The rest of the convoy was brought 
forward as quickly as possible and packed in a mass 
for defence. The attack came from both flanks at once 
and was at first repulsed. All soldiers know the result 
which must follow. The waggoners lost heart and head 
and the convoy fell into chaos. The Prussian troops 
fought with great bravery. General Krokow, with the 
advanced guard and 250 waggons, among which was the 
military chest, gained the bridges of the Morava and 
escaped to the king. Ziethen had to fall back on Troppau. 
The convoy was utterly broken up and lost, in spite of the 
gallant conduct of the Prussian troops. 

Jomini remarks of this action that the recruits who 
formed a portion of the Prussian force, " though they 
had never seen an enemy before, covered themselves with 
glory. Never did veterans of Kome or Sparta fight with 
more intrepidity for their country than did these youths 
from seventeen to twenty years of age. Out of 900, only 
sixty-five were taken; some of the wounded even re- 
turned to Troppau. The rest, along with Captain Pirch, 
who commanded them, resolved to defend themselves to 
the last breath, and carried to the grave the laurels 
which they had won. All were found dead on the post 
which they were ordered to defend." ^ And he adds, 

i Jomini, TraiU des grandes Operations militaires, torn. ii. p. 96, 
edition 1851. 


lst-2nd July 1758. 

'* The goodness of troops depends upon the genius which 
knows how to create motives for enthusiasm." 

It is to be remarked that, during the siege of Olmiitz, 
Frederick seemed to be hardly himself. It was not like 
him to allow Daun to manoeuvre in the neighbourhood 
without a battle. It was a mistake to move so huge a 
convoy instead of several smaller ones, and a strange 
neglect to suffer at least 20,000 Austrians to reach his line 
of communications and remain there for days without 
discovery. Military students will do well to compare the 
operations about Olmiitz, in 1758, with those of Napoleon I., 
in 1796, when, under greater difficulties he suddenly 
abandoned the siege of Mantua and even his batteries ; 
defeated the enemy, returned and captured the place. 

But if Frederick failed during the siege to uphold his 
renown as a strategist, his action after the capture of the 
convoy was remarkable, and remains as one of the great 
models for soldiers. /\A^ordinary general, knowing that 
his means of subsistence were reduced, that he was in 
presence of a superior enemy, and that his communications 
were cut, would have certainly fallen back behind his 
fortresses in Silesia, only too glad to find safety and 
repose. Frederick, on the contrary, raised the siege in a 
masterly manner during the night of the 1st and 2nd 
July, and moved with his whole force, not to Silesia but 
to Bohemia, which Daun had left exposed by his manoeavres 
south of the king against the convoy. yWhile Daun was 
doing his usual Te Deums, Frederick was off. Never has 
there been a more remarkable march. The Prussians 
moved with an advanced guard, a main body composed of 
the siege parks in the centre, and a column of all arms 
on each flank, then a rear guard. The whole of this force 
was, as it were, escorted by Austrians. They were in 


14th July 2nd Aug 1758. 

front, on the flank and in rear ; the king's army was but a 
convoy on a large scale ; nothing but a certain inertness 
of Austrian nature prevented a battle which ought to have 
gone against the king. Yet, on the 14th July, the 
Prussian army was safely assembled at Kbniggratz, and 
in possession of all the fine entrenchments which Daun had 
made so short a time before. Daun arrived and sat himself 
once more behind other entrenchments. The two camps 
were so near that they could see into each other's lines. 
But Daun dared not attack, though considerably more than 
twice as strong as Frederick — say 75,000 against 30,000. 
For all that Daun could or would do the Prussian army 
might have remained at Kbniggratz for months. 

Meanwhile in other theatres of war, Prince Henry was 
in Saxony, with about 25,000 men. The Reichs army with 
a reinforcement of 15,000 Austrians was in the circle of 

. Saatz ready to invade Saxony. Duke Ferdinand in his 
pursuit of the French beat them at Crefeld, 23rd June. 
France, in consternation, dismissed Clermont and appointed 
Contades to command. Belle_Jsle's only son, the Comte 
de Gisors, fell at Crefeld. / On the 8th July, General 
Amherst's force landed at Louisberg, and on the 8th 
August the place fell to the English. All was going well 
except in one direction, and to that point Frederick had 
now to turn his eyes. } 

Fermor with his Kussians were now in the field, the 

rCossacks ravaging and murdering horribly. They were at 
Tosen about the time when Frederick advanced into 
Bohemia, and thence threatened both Brandenburg and 
SilesiaT" \ On the 2nd August, Frederick commenced a 
march into Silesia with the intention of finding Fermor, 
and fighting him. The march was conducted with great 
skill, and is a model for that difficult operation — retiring 


2iid-15th Aug. 1758. 

through mountain defiles in the face of a superior enemy. 
More than this, Frederick's enemy had actually beset 
the principal passes. From the 28th July to the 2nd 
August the king made several partial movements to 
deceive the enemy, and clear the road by which he 
intended to move, and on the latter day commenced his 
retirement by Scalitz and Nachod to Kloster-Griissau.^ 
Qurmg the perilous march he learnt from his brother 
Henry that the much loved Wilhelmina was apparently 
dying. In spite of the hurry and difficulties in which 
he was involved, Frederick wrote tender letters to his 
sister which were answered by her own hand ^p long as 
she could hold a pen, and afterwards by dictation. 
But there was no time to indulge in lamentations. ^ 
Frederick arrived at Griissau on August 8th, and 
remained there two whole days, during which the king 
drew up careful instructions for Henry in the event of his 
death, and then, leaving about half the late OlmUtz army 
to strengthen the force for defence of Silesia, thus bringing 
it to 40,000 men under Keith, marched on the 11th through 
Liegnitz for Frankfurt on Oder with the intention of 
fighting the Eussians. He had probably with him about 
15,000 men, and arrived at Frankfurt on the 20th. 

Fermor had left Posen on the 2nd, and moved slowly 
towards Ciistrin, which town he reduced to ashes on the 
15th. But the fortress remained untouched by the flames, 
and was occupied by a Prussian garrison, behind which lay 
Dohna with the force detached from looking after the 
Swedes. Dohna and Frederick together would number 
perhaps 30,000 men, the Russians may be set down as 

^ There is a good account of these interesting movements in Jomini's 
TraiU des grandes Operations militaires. It is well worth tlie attentive 
study of the military student. 


22nd-25th Aug. 1758; 

about 52,000. On the 22nd the army was concentrated 
and crossed that night at Glistebiese. LeaviDg the baggage 
on the other side of the Oder, the force pushed on ten 
miles to Klossow, intending to cross the Miitzel next day 
at Neudamm. The head-quarters of the Russians were 
at Gross Kamin. On the 24th Frederick broke the bridges 
over the Miitzel, south of Neudamm, and crossed there 
during the night. He broke up the bridge behind him so 
that no escape across the Miitzel would be possible to the 
Russians. The day before, 23rd, Termor, hearing of the 
king's advance, raised the siege of Ciistrin and posted 
himself north of Zorndorf, sending his huge baggage train 
rich with plunder to Klein Kamin. Thus on the morning 
of the 25th the king was nearly due north of the Russians, 
who were separated from their trains, and arranged in a 
sort of camp order fronting all round the compass, their 
light baggage being in the centre. In this formation 
the army was about two miles long by one mile broad, in a 
sort of irregular quadrilateral formation with uneven sides. 
This formation had been found good against the Turks, 
and is probably the best for a small force which has to 
meet a large one of irregulars ; it was not suited to with- 
stand Frederick's tactics. Considering Fermor as fronting 
towards Neudamm, the left or broadest part of his quadri- 
lateral rested on the Zabern hollow, with its marshes, the 
right or narrowest part on mud pools and quagmires near 

But the king had no intention of attacking the north 
front ; he had broken the bridges over the Miitzel with the 
intention of driving the Russians into that river and the 
marshes which line its banks. He must therefore march 
jound the Russian army and attack it from the south ; his 
own retreat, if worsted, would be short, and upon the 


25th Aug. 1758, 

fortress of Custrin. Bent upon carrying out this purpose, 
and, with his usual impetuosity, ignoring all but his main 
intention, he actually marched between the Kussian army 
and its trains, which were at Klein Kamin, without dis- 
covering their neighbourhood. By capturing or destroy- 
ing them he might have forced the Bussian army to retire, 
without wasting a man or a shot on the enterprise. Instead 
of this, he marched to the south of Wilkersdorf and 
Zorndorf, to place himself on the western flank of the 
Russians. The march was seven or eight miles long, and 
Fermor, seeing what was happening, rearranged his quad- 
rilateral, placing his best troops in the southern face. 
The Cossacks, retiring from Zorndorf, set fire to the 
village, and Frederick, reconnoitring the Bussian western 
face, decided that the approach across the Zabern hollow 
with its quagmires would be too difiicult. He decided, 
therefore, to attack the south-western angle with his left 
reinforced by the centre, and to refuse his right. The 
first division ordered to attack marched westward of 
flaming Zorndorf, the next division east and northward 
of the burning village. Thus occurred a wide gap between 
the two divisions. Two strong batteries, numbering to- 
gether sixty guns, preceded the march, and posted them- 
selves so as to enfilade the two faces of the Bussian angle. 
The Bussian ajitillery responded, but its diverging fire had 
less effect. \ The action of the Prussian artillery was 
terrible by its enfilade fire. Tielcke, who was with the 
Russians, reports that forty-two men of one regiment were 
killed or wounded by a single shot.^ The baggage horses 
in the interior of the quadrilateral were thrown into great 
confusion, and Manteufel, who led the Prussian left divi- 

^ Decker denies this, saying that the batteries were too distant. 
But they certainly advanced afterwards to closer range. 



25th Aug. 175a 

sion, thought that he saw the moment come for attack. 
His division pushed gallantly into contact with the enemy 
and the musketry of the rival infantries was soon at work ; 
but the second division was not yet near enough to help, 
and Termor, seeing the gap, poured into it, and upon 
ManteufeFs front at the same time, a tremendous torrent 
of horse and foot. Manteufel was thrust back, and 
twenty- six guns captured from the Prussians. For a 
moment it seemed as if a catastrophe was at hand, but 
then, as ever, Frederick was well supported by his chosen 
cavalry captains. Seidlitz, with wonderful cleverness, had 
found his way across the bogs in the Zabern hollow, and, 
at the critical moment, formed up on solid ground, and 
threw himself, with 5,000 horse, upon the flank of the 
Russian attack, already broken by its own impetuosity. 
The charge of Seidlitz was decisive. The Russian advance 
was dashed to pieces, and by its destruction left a gap in 
the defensive quadrilateral. Into that gap went Seidlitz, 
supported by Manteufel' s division, and, in a q'uarter of an 
hour, complete chaos reigned in this part of the Russian 
army. The Russian cavalry fled to Kutzdorf, Fermor 
being with them, and would have crossed the Miitzel but 
for the breaking of the bridges. The Russian infantry, 
with that strange dogged persistency characteristic of their 
race, fled not, but could hardly resist. The cavalry of 
Seidlitz, mad with desire for revenge, sabred them as they 
stood, till the arms of the troopers were too weary to 
wield the sword. Farther away from Seidlitz the Russians 
broke open the suttlers' brandy casks and filled themselves 
with the ardent spirit, even from puddles in the ground 
when their officers split the casks. rTnis terrible example 
of human passion and human despair continued until half 
the Russiaji army had been destroyed or swept away, but 


25tn Aug. 1758. 

between the two wings of it, and separating the quad 
rilateral into two parts, was another marshy hollow called 
the Galgen-grund. On the other side of this the second 
part of the Russians, about two-thirds, remained firm, nor 
was there any possibility that the troopers of Seidlitz, 
weary with killing, or Manteufel's division, after its 
double fight, could make any impression upon the dogged 

It was now the turn of the right wing, which, preceded 
by the rest of the artillery — formed in three batteries, fifty- 
seven guns — advanced to the attack of the Russian left 
front. It would seem that the horrible nature of the 
carnage which had already prevailed had stricken the 
Prussian infantry with awe. Their advance was slower 
than usual, and thus the battery most to the right, thirty 
pieces, was unsupported. Once more the quadrilateral 
opened, and a strong force of Russian cavalry rushed 
upon the battery as it was unlimbering. The guns were 
taken, and the teams with their limbers rushed wildly 
back, throwing the infantry into confusion. A supporting 
battalion was also captured, and again the day seemed 
lost. The king threw himself into the mass of confusion, 
and strove to rally the broken battalions.^ At this 
moment Seidlitz again appeared with sixty-one squadrons, 
sprang upon the Russian cavalry, shattered it to atoms, 
and recaptured both infantry and guns. The infantry 
which had fled formed part of Dohna's force. The bat- 
talions which Frederick had brought over the mountains 
all stood firm. Three of them had been recruited in the 

1 It is not quite clear whether there were not two similar Eussian 
attacks about this time ; the first defeated by cavahy from the right, 
the second by Seidlitz with his sixty-one squadrons. The point is 
without importance. 

o 2 


25th Aug. 175», 

Zorndorf country, and blazed with savage wrath against 
the cruel enemy who had made their homes desolate. 
These and others pressed on to close quarters. The 
I artillery had torn the enemy's masses to pieces ; Seidlitz 
J and the infantry fire had completed the ruin of all for- 
mation. V. Still, with set teeth and stubborn determination 
the Russians stood in groups or singly, and met their foes 
like wild beasts at bayA The opposing forces closed, 
pressed together, mingled in complete -confusion. All use 
of artillery, every power of manoeuvre, was gone ; and in 
their place was a death grapple between Teuton and Slav, 
breast to breast, with bayonet and butt, with hands, feet, 
and even teeth. Archenholtz says that the Russians 
would not even fall at once when shot through, but 
seemed to wait a while.^ Round this struggling mass 
wheeled bands of Cossacks, among the dead, the wounded, 
and the field-pieces, abandoned as useless for the time. A 
fringe of cold-blooded murder garnished the masses in 
their horrible strife. Darkness came slowly over the 
field, and for a time even under its shadow was heard the 
sobbing breath of foes still struggling, though exhausted. 
Gradually and sullenly the Russians separated themselves, 
and drew back. A formed body of them reappeared on a 
knoll as night fell, and the king could not persuade the 
battalions which had shrunk from the fight to save their 
honour by another attack. The battle was ended by 
exhaustion and darkness, not by any manoeuvre, nor 
because either side was mentally tired of slaying. 

The losses were, on the Prussian side, 11,390, of whom 
3,680 were killed. The Russians lost 21,529, of whom 

* This is in accordance with the author's own observation when 
accompanying the Russian army in 1877. The tenacity of life shown 
by Russians and still more by Bulgarians was often very remarkable. 


2(5th Aug. -2nd Sept. 1758. 

7,990 were killed. Thus each army had lost more than a 
third of its strength, many of the Russians being drowned 
or suffocated in the bogs on the banks of the Miitzel. 
The Prussians lost twenty-six guns, the Russians 103. 

Next morning the Russians showed themselves in battle 
order on the Drewitz heath, and there was some cannonad- 
ing across the Zabern hollow, but neither army had 
real stomach for another such struggle, and besides, am- 
munition had run low. It is strange that Frederick still 
left unseized the Russian trains at Klein-Kamin. His 
hussars knew of them, for they had plundered them the 
night before. During the night of the 26th the Russians 
moved round south of the battle-field to Klein-Kamin, and 
remained till the 31st, when they slowly withdrew in the 
direction of Landsberg and Konigsberg. Frederick ^ave to 
Dohna the charge of pressing the Russian rear, and himself, 
marched for Saxony on the 2nd September, 

During the absence of the King a great project had been 
conceived at Vienna. Daun and the Reichs army were to 
concentrate near Dresden and crush Prince Henry, who 
was about half as strong as the Reichs army alone. Parts 
of Daun's force, under Deville and Harsch, were to enter 
Silesia and besiege Neisse. All fell out as intended, except 
the crushing. Prince Henry refused to be exterminated ; 
and after a series of brilliant manoeuvres posted himself in 
an entrenched position on the heights of Gahmig, near 
Dresden. Prince Henry was always too quick for Daun. 
The difference" between the Prussian and Austrian armies 
may be judged from the fact that Frederick, advancing 
upon Fermor, marched with a numerous and heavy 
artillery, much less mobile then than now, at the rate of 
nearly fourteen miles per day. In returning towards 
Dresden he sped back at the rate of twenty-two miles a 


12th Sept. -7th Oct. 175$. 

day, and arrived just in time to disconcert by his presence 
a combination which Daun had formed against Prince 
Henry ;^ Daun's marches had been at the rate of nine 
miles per day. ( jChe name of Frederick was . enough for 
Daun) who fell back to Stolpen, where he fortified himself. 
Pn the 12th September the king dined with Prince Henry 
at Dresden. His army was now at Grossenhain, north of 
Meissen, with its Elbe bridges; Prince Henry's force 
covered Dresden, Daun was at Stolpen, and the Peichs 
army in the Pirna country. The four armies lay for about 
a month in nearly these positions, to the wonder of the 
world, Frederick thrusting here and there against Daun's 
posts. His army much needed the rest which it obtained. 
On the 26th September the king arrived at Pamenau, 
near Bischofswerda, where Loudon was posted; recon- 
noitred the position next day, and would have attacked it 
the day after, but Loudon prudently fell back towards 
Stolpen. Drawing nine days' provisions from Dresden, 
the king now decided to march towards Bautzen, sending 
General Petzow with an advanced guard to that place. 
He was ordered to seize Weissenberg and the Stromberg 
Hill in front of Bautzen, and did so accordingly, on 1st 
October, except the Stromberg. Why should he % all seemed 

He placed a cavalry outpost on that hill by day but 
retired it by night. On the night of the 6th — 7th the 
Austrian General Wehla, who had till then fallen back 
before Petzow, reoccupied the hill. For now, Daun, fearing 
for his magazines at Zittau, was on his way to intercept the 

^ Tempelhof doubts whether Daun had conceived a living plan. 
That ascribed to him was that his army should march round by Meissen, 
cross the Elbe, and take Prince Henry in rear, while the Eeiclis army 
attacked in front. 


7th-llth Oct. 1758. 

Prussian army Frederick had been delayed by awaiting 
the provision columns from Dresden, which only reached 
Bautzen on the 10th. 

The king himself with the army arrived at Bautzen on 
the 7th, and on the same day Daun finished his march of 
two days and lay at Kittlitz. Thus Wehla was his advanced 
guard, and possessed that Stromberg hill which domi- 
nated the whole country and was the key of the positions 
thereabouts. On the 10th Frederick pushed forward to 
Hochkirch and saw, to his chagrin, Daun's army drawn 
up opposite him in front of Kittlitz. In vexation he 
turned his eyes to the Stromberg and saw there, not Prus- 
sian troops, but Austrian grenadiers, five battalions of 
them, with a numerous artillery. Just the one key-point 
had been neglected. The king was furious. He clapped 
Betzow in arrest, and with headstrong obstinacy insisted 
on encamping within a mile of the Austrians, and in a 
position inferior to theirs. So evident was the folly of 
this that his favourite adjutant, Marwitz, refused to mark 
out the ground, and was also placed in arrest. No special 
pleading can excuse Frederick. He was yielding to childish 
passion, or rather to that strain of mad self-will which, when 
displayed by his father, had cost the boy so dear. Yield, 
ing to his temper and to his contempt for Daun, he risked 
the safety of his army and country without any advantage 
to be gained. Next morning the Stromberg was attempted 
but found impregnable, the Austrians being already rein- 
forced. As usual Daun fortified assiduously, and Frederick, 
having never been attacked, had a blind confidence in the 
inertness of the Austrians. His plan was to move, on the 
14th, to Shops, and place himself there on Daun's right 
flank, thus turning the position. But, for once, the 
Austrian general felt that he must act with some vigour. 


llth-13th Oct. 1758. 

Never in his career would he see so manifest an oppor- 
tunity again. 

Such insolent neglect as that of Frederick is almost in- 
credible, especially when it is remembered that his force 
was but 40,000 all told, that Daun had 90,000 in com- 
manding positions only about a mile distant, that the King's 
right wing, under Keith, and his centre, together only 
28,000 strong, occupied about four miles of country from 
Hochkirch to Drehsa, or thereabouts ; and that his left 
wing under Ketzow, 12,000 strong, was beyond Weissen- 
berg, having between it and the centre a gap of four or 
five miles. (But the feeling of the king may be under- 
stood by his reply to Keith, who said : — " The Austrians 
deserve to be hanged if they don't attack us here." Frederick 
answered — ** Let ^ys hope, then, that Daun fears us more 
than the gallows." j 

The right of "the Prussians was strengthened by a battery 
of twenty guns, by four battalions thrown back en potencBy 
and by Ziethen's cavalry. Opposite them, nearly due 
south, lay Loudon, with some 3,000 men, principally 
Croats. Wooded hills covered this force, and Frederick 
knew nothing of it. Another battery, of thirty guns, 
strengthened the left of the 28,000 under the king's 
own command. Retzow, as we know was beyond 

On the Austrian side, D' Ahremberg, with the right wing 
about 20,000 strong, occupied the Stromberg and there- 
abouts, ready at any moment to place himself between the 
king and Retzow. The main force was in front of the 
Prussians, with Loudon out-flanking them. Far behind, 
at Reichenbach, the Prince of Baden Durlach commanded 
a force of 25,000, to observe Ketzow and protect the com- 
munications. The fronts of the Austrian and Prussian 


!ISth-14thOct. 175S. 

lines were only half a mile apart, with a brook for 

The night of the 13th fell, chill and dark, enshrouding 
the armies with its folds of fog. The Prussians slept pro- 
tected from the marsh mists by their tents. The horses 
were unburdened, by order of Frederick, their saddles and 
other furniture packed carefully in heaps on the ground. 
All except Ziethen's cavalry. That brilliant, yet cautious 
leader, felt the same anxiety as Keith, and kept his horses 
saddled, in disobedience to the king's command. During 
the day the hollow woods had resounded to the chopping of 
axes, the usual noise in Daun's camps. Making abatis, 
Frederick thought. And all through the night the sound 
of the chopping and falling of trees continued with added 
intensity. The Austrian watch fires burned brightly along 
their lines, and figures flitted in front of them, piling ou 
wood and throwing long shadows on the white mist. 

But behind those watch-fires there were no troops. The 
axe during the last two days had been at work making 
roads through the woods, and now redoubled its noise to 
conceal that of an army in motion. All night long the 
columns moved silently through the dripping woods till 
30,000 men cast the arms of their formation round the 
Prussian right to the very back of Frederick's army. Still, 
even Ziethen slept, though his horses were saddled. At 
the same time, D'Ahremberg's men were planting them- 
selves in readiness to attack the king's left and its thirty- 
gun battery ; but no blow was to be struck here till the 
Prussian right should be driven in. Baden Durlach was 
preparing to grasp Betzow firmly, and at least prevent 
him from sending support to his master. As the clock at 
Hochkirch struck four, all the Austrians were settling into 
their positions ; their deceitful watch fires burned brightly 


14th Oct. 175& 

as ever, and the Prussian soldiers lay wrapped in their 
blankets dead asleep. A few only, whose business it was 
to repel the usual morning attacks of the Austrian light 
troops were awake and stirring. All seemed still this 
dark and misty morning. Even the usual crackle of 
firearms among the light troops was absent. 

The church clock at Hochkirch struck five. It was the 
signal for the attack of 30,000 men on the weak Prussian 
right, and the woods began to echo from tree to tree the 
sound of musketry, becoming ever louder and more fre- 
quent. Gradually the idea forced itself on the Prussians 
that this was no outpost affair, but the approach of a 
serious struggle. One by one their battalions came into 
action, but only to be surrounded, and cut their way out 
through masses of the enemy. The guns fired into the fog 
and darkness, but were attacked from front, rear, and flank. 
Zeithen, with his cavalry, swept backwards and forwards, 
and succeeded in keeping the extremity of the position clear. 
But all was of no avail. The Austrians were more nume- 
rous on that flank than the whole of the king's portion 
of the army. The twenty-gun battery was taken, and 
the battalions became skeletons, the bones of them hang- 
ing still together, and fighting as best they could with a 
courage and discipline beyond all praise. Keith, with 
one fresh battalion and the remnants of others, charged 
up the hill straight on the battery and recaptured it. 
But his small force was surrounded and overwhelmed. He 
tried to force his way out with the bayonet, but fell, shot 
through the heart, a victim to his master's fierce 

Shortly after Keith's repulse and death, Frederick be- 
came aware of the terrible nature of the attack, and sent 
to the right a reinforcement of several battalions. They 


14th Oct. 1758. 

too were repulsed, and Moritz of Dessau fell, a wounded 
prisoner, into the hands of the Austrians. Then the king 
himself rushed into the thick of the combat with more 
battalions. He too passed beyond Hochkirch, but his 
horse was shot under him, and, as the fog slowly lifted, 
he perceived that all was lost on the right, and an iron 
ring of the enemy was closing in upon him. Now, too, 
D'Ahremberg came into action against the Prussian front. 
Steindorfel was gone, and with it the main line of retreat 
on Bautzen. Nothing remained but to concentrate the 
army as best might be, and retreat, if retreat were still 
possible, by the pass of Drehsa where the brook runs. 

Sharp orders were despatched to seize the Drehsa 
heights, and the ever ready Ziethen flung himself into 
position at Kumschutz and Canitz to guard the new right. 
Urgent messages were sent to Retzow to come in with his 
best speed. But Betzow was now in action with Baden 
Durlach's 20,000, and had much ado to get back by Belgen 
and thereabouts. To rally the beaten troops was no easy 
task, but it was done under the shelter of two hastily-formed 
batteries, one on the heights of Drehsa, which checked 
Loudon advancing from Steindorfel, another brought together 
by Frederick himself, of ten heavy pieces, half way between 
the Drehsa heights and the thirty-gun battery. These 
two new masses of guns held back the victorious Austrian 
left wing and saved the army from rout. The thirty-gun 
battery was left almost defenceless. Twice it repulsed the 
attack of D'Ahremberg and gave time for the troops to 
rally. The third time it was surrounded and captured 
about nine o'clock. The artillery had done its part well. 
In such a case as this the duty of that arm is to sacrifice 
itself for the safety of the infantry. The guns were lost, 
but they gained time for the king to form his new front and 


14th Oct.-20th Nov. 1758. 

for Retzow to escape being cut off. By ten o'clock Retzow 
had joined, his movements having been covered by the skil- 
ful resistance of two batteries well supported by infantry. 

Frederick now ordered a general retreat. It was carried 
out in perfect order, always fronting the enemy with one 
echelon while another retired. Grim and savage the 
Prussians fell back, covered by what guns remained to 
them, and so surly was their appearance that Daun dared 
attempt nothing further. The relics of the army took post 
near the Spree that night ; not broken in spirit, hardly 
disheartened. The king was cheerful, and Daun fell back 
to his old camp, where he remained for some six or seven 
days to come, then moved only a little forward. On the 
23rd Frederick, already reinforced by artillery from 
Dresden, and by 6,000 men under Prince Henry in 
person, marched down the Spree apparently for Glogau, 
and two days later struck south-eastward by Reichenbach 
towards Neisse. Daun's flank was turned after all, and 
the siege of ISTeisse had to be raised. 

'The Prussians lost in the battle about 8,000 killed, 
wounded, or missing, with 101 guns, and the Austrians 
about as many men. But, to Frederick, Keith and Moritz 
were irreparable losses, and his heart was even more sorely 
bruised by news which arrived four days afterwards. 
Wilhelmina was dead. From that day forth Frederick 
the man was lonely in a world of pain. 

The king, with his army, being gone for Silesia, Daun 
thought to capture Dresden, moved slowly there and laid 
siege to the place. But on November 15 th he heard that 
Frederick was speeding back by Lusatia, his work in 
Silesia being done. Daun faltered iand fell back into the 
Pirna country. On the 20th Frederick was in Dresden, and 
Daun on his way home to Bohemia. 



This remarkable campaign shows the genius of Frederick 
at its best and worst. He began with one idea which, 
with great versatility and address, he changed for another 
after the capture of the convoy rendered the fall of 
Olmiitz hopeless. His march to Kbniggratz, instead of 
falling back on Silesia, was a magnificent instance of the 
true way of defending a country. Nothing could be more 
careful and well-conducted than his passage through the 
mountains, and his march on the Russians was brilliant. 
E^iually remarkable was his neglect to seize or destroy 
the Russian trains, for, if on the first day of the battle he 
was too much occupied to think of them, there could be no 
such excuse on the second day. The Austrian Loudon, or 
the king's own partizan leaders, would certainly have 
seized such a golden opportunity. / The rapid return to 
Saxony was a master stroke, but exception must be taken 
to the slowness of the movement on Bautzen. It would 
have been better to wait till all the provision columns 
were in readiness before moving at all. Frederick was 
now committing the fault of despising his adversary too 
much. He would not give Daun credit for the slightest 
military vigour, and was accordingly out-manoeuvred. 
When he found the Austrian army in front of him, hairing 
the road to Neisse, his anger and self-confidence verged on 
madness. But he was always great in defeat. ■ Once more 
he formed a new pTan, and executed it with sucL ability 
as to atone for his previous errors. The rest of the cam- 
paign is a perfect example of well-conducted war. It is 
true that, according to modern military art, Daun and his 
other opponents were culpably slow, but so had the old 
Prince of Dessau been, and the Prussian armies at 
Mollwitz and elsewhere, till Frederick made them quick 
and subtle, and taught his generals rapidity of motion. 


Every action must be judged according to the spirit of 
the age, and if one general appears brighter and bolder 
than the rest of his time, he must be assigned a niche in 
the Temple of Fame as a great commander. Military 
pedants like Jomini may talk of the effect of interior 
lines on a campaign like this. The fact is that Frederick 
used them when he had them ; Daun had the same ad- 
vantage when the king was fighting Fermor, and again 
when he was relieving Neisse. Frederick made the best 
of them ; Daun threw his chances away. 





A.D. 1759, 


The struggles of the past three years had greatly ex- 
hausted the resources of Frederick, and he was driven to 
strange shifts for procuring the necessary money and 
means. Prussia, small in population, had produced her 
best army at the beginning of the war. As the veterans 
died or retired, young soldiers took their place. Discipline 
was less perfect, yet, as we shall see, some of the finest 
marches were made by the new levies. On the other hand 
the Austrian armies were improving. The population to 
draw upon was greater, the troops had gained experience, 
and the generals were learning the art of war from their 
great opponent. Under these circumstances, Frederick 
thought himself obliged to relinquish his dashing method 
of opening the campaign by invasion of his enemy's 
country. An immense cordon had been drawn round him 
during the winter. The Russians had withdrawn but 
were still at enmity. Daun's Austrians were round the 
western Silesian border and the south-eastern Saxon. 



Then came the Reichs army in Thuringia and Franconia. 
Then Soubise, with 25,000 French in the Frankfurt-Ems 
country, and lastly, Contades behind the Rhine on the 
Dutch borders. In this chain of posts were about 300,000 
men, all enemies to the life of Prussia. To meet these 
and the Russians, Frederick had about 150,000 ; he was 
reduced to debasing Prussian coin for his necessities, and 
above all there lay upon him the shadow of that terrible 
loneliness which never left him after Wilhelmina's death. 
*' Nothing solaces me," he writes, "but the vigorous 
application required in steady and continuous labour." 

Among his labours was an essay on Tactics, in which 
he speaks of the perpetual sluggishness of the Austrians as 
the main cause of his success hitherto. He had by this 
time become aware of the power which might be got from 
the new arm, a mobile field artillery, and 'he felt that the 
Prussian artillery was not equal to the Austrian. Hence- 
forward he set himself to improve it, and he did so more 
and more as the quality of his infantry fell off. 

In the early part of the year his various armies struck 
blows at the cordon, though without intention of definitely 
invading any territory ; rather to disturb arrangements 
and capture magazines. As the king himself was not 
engaged in these, we will take no notice of them, except 
to say that on the whole they were successful, and delayed 
the advance of the enemy like sorties from a fortress. 
Daun was so astonished at the king attempting no invasion 
that he was long at a loss for any plan of campaign, 
wasting five weeks in correspondence with the Russians. 
Neither party liked the task of belling the cat. In June 
the king made a reconnaissance into Bohemia, of no 
importance but for the fact that in his small column 
marched four guns, of lightest equipment, the gunners 


Jiily-Aug. 1759. 

mounted on the horses as postilions. This was the first 
attempt at an artillery capable of accompanying cavalry 
on the march and in the field — the germ of the present 
horse artillery of Europe. 

The Russians took the field this year earlier than usual. 
Soltikof was now in command, superseding Fermor. 
Frederick, as usual, drew upon his northern forces, and 
ordered Dohna, with 18,000 men, to try whether he could 
not deliver some stroke against the separate parts of the 
Russian army before it could concentrate. Dohna was old, 
and trained on the old methods of war, and did nothing of 
value. Soltikof out-manoeuvred him, and Frederick, whose 
best generals, except Ziethen and Seidlitz, were all killed, 
appointed Wedell to command, with instructions to fight 
the Russians somehow and somewhere. On the 23rd 
July, Wedell, with 26,000 men, attacked Soltikof, 70,000 
strong, besides Cossacks, on the march near Zullichau. 
Wedell was defeated with loss of 6,000, and fell back to 
Crossen Bridge, five or six miles below the town of 
Crossen-on-Oder, which Soltikof occupied on the 24th. 
Daun tried to persuade the Russians to push on, and unite 
with him for a blow against Frederick ; but Soltikof 
moved down the Oder to Frankfurt, marching rlways on 
the eastern bank. Daun had detached Loudon and 
Haddick some time before, with 35,000 men, to join the 
Russians. It was necessary for Frederick to prevent the 
'junction if possible, and he determined to do the work 
himself. Calling Prince Henry to command at Schmott- 
seifen and watch Daun, he drew in his various detach- 
ments to Sagan, and on the 6th August united with 
Wedell at Miillrose, near Frankfurt, after a vain search 
for the Haddick-Loudon force. He always missed it by a 
trifle, yet his swift pursuit had the effect of forcing 



2nd-12th Aug. 1759.' 

Haddick with the bulk of the infantry to relinquish the 
attempt, and Loudon only joined the Russians on the 2nd 
August with 20,000 men, chiefly cavalry. 
/^t this time occurred in the western theatre of war the 
baOTe of Minden, where Ferdinand defeated the French, the 
English and Hanoverian infantry in the centre of the fight 
behaving magnificently/^he French army would have been 
ruined but for th«-«risconduct of Lord George Sackville, 
who commanded the cavalry, and failed to attack when 
ordered. The mists of time have veiled the terrible 
incapacity, to say the least, of some English officers in the 
Seven Years' War. Were one tenth of their weakness 
and folly shown in a campaign now, the telegraph would 
flash the news from the pens of many correspondents, and 
on the very evening of the battle England would be in a 
delirium of indignation. 

At MUllrose Frederick lay quiescent for some days. He 
was awaiting Finck with another 10,000 men, which would 
give him 50,000 altogether ; the Russian enemy being, 
with Loudon, about 90,000 strong. Finck arrived on the 
10th at Reitwein, some fifteen miles below Frankfurt, ^he 
king and his army being there to meet him. Two bridges, 
one of pontoons the other of boats, brought from Custrin, 
were laid speedily, and the whole army crossed that night 
in two columns, and moved next day towards Kunersdorf. 
That night the army lay between Leissow and Bischofsee.* 
Finck was placed at Trettin. 

On the morning of the 12th, at three o'clock, the king 
marched to attack the Russians, who had drawn up on 
the sandhills about Kunersdorf. Frederick did not know 
the ground, and, being misled by a peasant and by an 
officer who had hunted in the vicinity, planned his battle 
1 See map. Battle of Kunersdorf. 


12th Aug. 1759. - — 

as it could not fiiically be carried out, because of delay in 
crossing the boggy ground. The plan was for Finck to 
remain at Trettin or in front of it, making demonstrations 
as if the attack of the main army were to be thence. The 
rest of the army was to move in two columns by the left 
through the woods. The Russian right wing was to be 
cannonaded from north by Finck, from east by the king, 
and then the whole of the army was to bear down together 
and sweep the Russians out of their position. Frederick 
would command the centre. 

The first difficulty was found in the king's march 
through the woods. The troops went too far and had to 
be recalled with great difficulty, the heavier guns, with 
their teams of twelve horses, being especially hard to 
reverse among the trees. At last, after a weary march of 
more than eight hours, the troops arrived in their places, 
or nearly so ; Frederick established two batteries, one on 
the little Spitzberg, the other on the road to left of that 
hill. Later, a third battery was established to left of the 
road. About eleven o'clock the batteries opened fire, 
Finck assisting from his side. The range was too long for 
the guns of that time — " 1,950 paces at the nearest," 
Tempelhof says ; but so dashing was the infantry 
attack, that eight grenadier battalions captured the 
Russian batteries on the Muhlberg in ten minutes. ^ The 
JR;USsiafiL left wing was beaten, and by one o'clock was 
streaming "TmcFlmretf eat on the main body. Now was 
the time for the combined attack, but the left was not 

^ The disposition of the Russian guns had been such that they could 
not see into the hollow across which tlie Grenadiers advanced. It is 
a sad mistake to imagine that a hill is hard to capture if steep enough. 
On the contrary, it may be too steep for safety. For instance, poor 
CoUey's position on the Majuba Hill. 

p 2 


12th Aug. 1759. 

even yet in position, and Finck was in difficulties in the 
Hiinerfliess, which was almost impassable for the guns of 
that time. There was at first no artillery with which to 
fire on the retreating Russians, and when it arrived the 
enemy had formed a new position behind the Kuhgrund 
(cow hollow). 

Upon this position the king now directed his army. He 
could not wait for the artillery, toiling behind ; his men 
were suffering much from the fire of the Russian guns, 
and he risked the advance. Finck, pressing up from the 
Elsbrucb (Alder Waste), stormed the left of the position, 
and the right centre pushed on from the Miihlberg. The 
left could not attack through Kunersdorf as the village 
had been set on fire by the Russians. The infantry struggle 
was desperate, and lasted three hours. Once more the 
Prussians were successful, and carried the greater part of 
the position, though the Kuhgrund was literally paved with 
their bodies fallen under the Russian case-shot. Almost 
all the position, but how much in that word — almost ! 
About 150 Russian guns had been taken, but again, not 
alL There remained the Spitz berg to be carried, and upon 
it was a battery of forty guns. In front too, was a 
gradually sloping glacis, and behind it Loudon's guns 
and others which had rallied on them. It was therefore a 
mass of well-posted artillery which had to be attacked if 
attack there must be. 

Frederick's generals, Seidlitz among them, implored him 
to rest content with his success so far, and he heard from 
Wunsch, whom he had sent to Frankfurt to intercept the 
retreat, that the enemy were actually beginning to cross 
the river. But again he was headstrong. He ordered 
some guns to fire on the bridge and insisted that his weary 
infantry should attack again without waiting for the 



artillery to prepare the way. The left wing, hitherto not 
engaged, advanced on the Spitzberg and climbed the slope 
only to be hurled down again by case-shot. Then the 
king, wild with wrath, sent at it Seidlitz with the cavalry. 
But the horsemen were shattered by the same fire, and 
driven in flight beyond the lakes of Kunersdorf. Again 
and again did Frederick throw his men against the batteries. 
Thrice he himself led the attack, and three horses were 
killed under him. A bullet struck a small metal box in 
his waistcoat jacket and was flattened. In front the same 
work was going on. The Prussian battalions dashed them- 
selves to pieces against the batteries. That nothing might 
be left untried Frederick sent the cavalry round by the 
east of the Miihlberg to attack from the Alder Waste. 
Eugen, of Wurtemberg, led them, but, when ready to 
charge, found that he had no men left with him. They 
had been over-tried and failed at last. Slowly now the 
infantry gave back. One last attempt was made at the 
Kuhgrund and with the last cartridges, but in vain. It 
was repulsed with the deadly case-shot. The last blow 
was given by Loudon who charged with his cavalry. From 
that moment the Prussian army was a miserable mass of 
fugitives. It melted away, and the king, who was one of 
the last to leave the field, found at the bridges only 3,000 
men awaiting him. CThe army had lost about 19,000 
killed, wounded, and prisoners, the Hussians and Austrians 
together, about 18,000.^ 

/^ederick had sent five messages to Berlin during the 
battle, at first announcing victory, then defeat and despair. 
He a ctual ly handed over the army to Finck, and determined 
notJ;o_su.rvive the disasterT) Worse still, he wrote to 
General Schmettau, who commanded at Dresden, a letter 
saying that he must expect no help, and might have to 


4th-15th Sept. 175». 

make terms for himself. The next day 23,000 men had 
arrived, the Kussians did not pursue, and on the fourth 
day after the battle the king was himself again. He sent 
to Berlin for refitments, and ordered Kleist from the 
Swedish business to join him. He was saved however, 
not by anything he could do, but by the sluggishness of 
his enemies. Daun and Soltikof spent their time in talk, 
each trying to persuade the others to give Frederick the 
coup de grace. 

On the 4th of September Schmettau surrendered Dresden 
to the Reich's army quite unnecessarily, and with great 
hurt to the cause, for General Wunsch was then within 
ten miles, having been sent with 8,000 men to relieve him. 
But though Dresden was gone, Wunsch with his 8,000 
and Finck with about the same number managed to hold 
the Reich's army in check, and to snatch some advantages 
from them. As for Schmettau, the king ordered him to 
Beirlin, never employed him_again nor saw his face more. 

/ The situation was critical. | The Russians and Austrians 
together were 120,000, withTree communication. Frederick 
had 24,000 guarding Berlin; Prince Henry 38,000 at 
Schmottseifen, separated from the king by the whole of 
Daun's army, which stretched its flank as far as Hoyers- 
werda, headquarters at Triebel. Thus was formed a living 
wall of enemies between the king and Prince Henry, and 
the advantage of interior lines was against the Prussians. 
Prince Henry manoeuvred against Daun's communications^ 
and forced him to make detachments. CBttt the one mea- 
sure which would have ruined Frederick was neglected by 
the allies. Tl^y could not agree to unite and crush either 
Prussian armyj At last, on the 15th September, they held 
a conference, and agreed that Soltikof should attack Silesia 
while Daun should strike Prince Henry. Frederick now 


Sept. lOth-Oct. 1759. 

showed his strategical ability by seizing Sagan, whence he 
could communicate with Henry, and check Soltikof. 
Whatever movement was made by the Russians they found 
Frederick in front of them, ready for a battle, which 
Soltikof avoided. Soltikof had bargained for food sup- 
plies from the Austrians. They sent him money instead, 
and he growled that his men could not eat silver. Finally, 
on the 24th October, he withdrew to Posen, and the snows 
of Russia swallowed him from sight for that year. 
Loudon had to get home as best he could through western 
Poland and Cracow. 

Daun concentrated and moved to Gorlitz on the 22nd 
September, ready to attack Prince Henry, who was in 
position there on the Landskron. The attack was to be 
next morning, but when day broke the Prussians had dis- 
appeared. Daun, fearing for his magazines at Bautzen, 
marched there, but Prince Henry's plan had been far 
otherwise. He moved first northward to Rothenburg, 
twenty miles, where he bivouacked three hours ; then to 
Klitten during the second night, a march of eighteen 
miles. Resting there again only three hours, the prince 
again marched through the evening and night twenty 
miles further, arriving on the 25th at Hoyerswerda, where 
he at once attacked and crushed Wehla, who, with 3,000 
troops, formed the most westerly detachment of the Austrian 
army. The march occupied fifty hours, the distance was 
fifty-eight miles. Nothing but perfect efficiency in every 
branch could enable any army to perform such a feat, and 
the fame of it rang through Europe, adding much to the 
respect in which Frederick and his Prussians were regarded. 

But hard work, fatigue, and exposure were telling on 
the king. On October 10th he fell sick of the gout. For 
three weeks he was confined to his room, yet such was his 


Oct..Nov. 1759. 

energy that instead of resting, he wrote diligently a 
memoir on the military character of Charles XII. He 
was carried in a litter to Glogau. 

[r vince Henry now commenced a series of manoeuvres 
against Daun, causing that worthy but old-world general 
to retire gradually. But the king, recovered from his 
illness — was the gouty blood clean gone from his brain ? — 
joined Prince Henry, and with adventurous rashness 
determined to crush the Austrians altogether. In his 
instructions to his generals Frederick speaks strongly 
against making detachments on the eve of a battle ; yet 
he detached Wunsch before Kunersdorf, and he now 
detached Finck to circle round in rear of Daun and help 
in the general destruction. Prince Henry and Finck 
himself objected, but the king's obstinacy prevailed. On 
the 15th November Finck marched by Dippoldiswalde to 
Maxen. Daun brought together a force of the Reich's 
army as well as his own, and surrounded Finck at Maxen 
with 42,000 men, the Prussian general having only 12,000. 
After two days' fighting Finck capitulated, and even had 
to call back Wunsch, who had escaped with the cavalry, 
and deliver up him also. For this there was no excuse. 
Finck ought to have fought to the last in an effort to break 
out. But the chief fault lay with Frederick, who should 
not have detached Finck unless he were sure of supporting 
him by keeping Daun always occupied. 

(So the armies stood for the winter, Daun occupying 
Dresden, Frederick holding the rest of Saxony. Both 
Daun and Frederick prolonged their stay in the field till 
far into the winter, but nothing came of it. The cam- 
paign had been unfortunate above all others,^Ln^ it is the 
one in which Frederick for the first time stood on the 

defensive to await his enemy. "| 


CAMPAIGN OP 1760. — Frederick's double plan. — siege of 




A.D. 1760. 

The campaign of 1760 opened with dismal augury for 
Frederick. His country was nearly exhausted. He had 
lost 60,000 men in the last year and the quality of the 
recruits was falling off. His exchequer was nearly ruined, 
and the successive admixtures of copper with the coin had 
depreciated the value of Prussian money . \ His c hief enemies, 
the Austrians and Russians, had at last agreed upon a 
combined plan of operationQin which Loudon was to have 
the separate command of an army of 50,000 men, destined 
for Silesia. He was to operate on the Oder in conjunction 
with Soltikof, while Daun, with 100,000 men, was to hold 
Frederick fast in Saxony, or, if the king broke loose against 
Loudon and Soltikof, was to follow him into Silesia. The 
Prussian army had lost so many officers that the regiments 
had by no means their full complement, and so strong was 
aristocratic prejudice, that it was impossible to throw open 
the profession of arms to competition among all classes. 


That great step was reserved for the forces of the French 
revolution. Yet Frederick's unsurpassed power of admin- 
istration provided a respectable army for the field, rein- 
forced his artillery, and remounted the cavalry. ^^England 
granted a subsidy as usuatNand men who swelled the army 
of Ferdinand to 70,00(rr^,000 of them English. Against 
the duke were Broglio with 80,000, the Count of St. 
Germain, on the Lower Rhine, with 30,000, and Prince 
Xavier with 15,000 as reserve. (Vnited Eyrope believed 
that the last hours of Prussia were at hand^^ 
/^he campaign of 1760 is memorable for its wonderful 
marches'X At the outset Frederick opposed Daun. Prince 
Henry 'Snd Fouquet were to check the Russians and 
Loudon and to guard Silesia. At the. middle of May, the 
Prince and Fouquet were spread over a line of posts, 300 
miles, from Land shut to Colberg. Urged by the king, 
Prince Henry concentrated between Sagan and Sprot- 
tau, then moved northward to Frankfurt, and finally to 
Landsberg. But no urging could induce him to attack 
the Russians while on the march in separate divisions. 
Posen was the Russian main base of operations. Fouquet, 
deceived by Loudon's manoeuvres, was enticed from Lands- 
hut ; thereupon Loudon pounced upon that place and then 
blockaded Glatz (7th of June). Frederick, irritated by 
this failure, ordered Fouquet to retake Landshut. He did 
so on the 17th, but having only 13,000 men was attacked 
by Loudon with 31,000 and completely defeated with the 
loss of nearly his whole force. This terrible blow showed 
Frederick that he himself must do more than watch Daun, 

and (he forthwith formed a double plan : first, to march 

to_Silesiar'if he could and strike Loudon; second, if this 
pl^n fajled, to draw away Daun, rush back and carry 
Dresden by a sharp siege. This was a combination worthy 


2ud-lSth July 1760. 

of a great general. On hearing the bad news of Fouquet's 
failure he sent an order to Magdeburg that a siege train 
should be in readiness at that place. On the 2nd of July 
the king moved twenty miles northwards from Gross 
Dobritz to Quosdorf, near Krakau, the first village in 
Lusatia. Daun sent Lacy with 20,000 to harass the 
march and stop it if possible. He encamped in sight of 
Frederick on the 3rd, and on that night the king marched 
to attack him. Lacy being warned moved off towards 
Bischofswerda, declining the combat. On the 6th Frederick 
marched another fifteen miles to Kloster Marienstern. 
Daun moved to Bautzen with Lacy as rear-guard. July 
6th, Frederick pushed on to outflank the Austrians and 
pass Daun, leaving Bautzen on the right. So intense was 
the heat that 105 Prussian soldiers died of sunstroke. 
Daun moved also to Gorlitz and lost 200 men from the 
same cause. Finding that the main force was gone, 
Frederick occupied Bautzen, and planned to strike Lacy 
moving from Bischofswerda, On the 8th, in the evening, 
the attempt was made, but Lacy again escaped back to 
Bischofswerda, and to Dresden on the 10th, thence to 
Plauen Chasm and the Eeichs Army. Daun was already 
fifty miles ahead, on the way to Silesia. On the 12th. 
Frederick was crossing the river close to Dresden with 
intent to carry the fortress. He knew that Daun must 
return, but hoped that time enough would be given.» On 
the 18th the siege guns arrived from Magdeburg, and all 
being prepared for them beforehand, began to bombard the 
town. It was a cruel torture to the townsfolk, but not out 
of the war rights of a besieging army. We have lived to 
see in this generation a bombardment of the gayest capital 
in the world. Maguire, the commandant of Dresden, 
mounted guns on the roof of the Kreutz Kirche (Protestant 


18th-29th July 1760. 

High Church) ; the Prussian guns destroyed church and 
battery together, without the king's orders as he always 
said afterwards.^ Maguire burned what remained of the 
suburbs from the last siege, and the Prussians burned a 
great part of the town during the bombardment. The 
wretched inhabitants were reduced to extreme misery, and 
could hardly bless the supposed clemency which had re- 
frained from capturing the place by storm the first day as, 
it is said, might have been done. 

The day after the bombardment commenced, Daun's 
advanced guard arrived and opened communication with 
Maguire from the north. Yet he had not courage or 
conduct enough to act quickly, nor did the torture of the 
city cease for ten days more. Frederick was at this time 
in severe mood. During a sortie the regiment Bernburg 
was driven back from the trenches by very superior 
numbers, and the king, unforgiving, deprived the regiment 
of its swords. The situation had become impossible. It 
was not unlike what the siege of Sebastopol would have 
been a century later if the Russians had held command of 
the sea. There were frequent slight attacks and rumours 
of attacks by Daun. The besiegers had to shift position 
constantly, and all signs portended a battle under dangerous 
circumstances. The siege must be raised, and, on the night 
of the 29th of July, the army moved towards Meissen, 

^ During the Russo-Turkish war of 1877, Giurgevo, an open town, 
was bombarded by the fortress of Ruschuk in revenge for tlie opening 
of Russian batteries not in Giurgevo. Later in the year I was visiting 
the Russian batteries about two miles from Giurgevo, when a Russian 
officer pointed out to me red crescent flags erected in Ruschuk, imme- 
diately behind some of the principal batteries of the place. He said it 
was done with a purpose. Soon afterwards there was a bombardment, 
and the Turks complained that the Russians had fired at the red 
crescent flag. 


29th July-lst Aug. 176a. 

down the river, the siege train having been sent away 
during the two preceding days.(^n that night, the 29th, 
the Austrians were firing signals of joy, because they had 
heard that ^Glatz had fallen into the hands of Loudon on 
the 26th.l_^he southern key to Silesia was gone, and, 
worst of all, had been thrown away by incompetence, vl^he 
chQ,racter of Frederick was shown by his conduct on rer 
jceiving t he news. ^[We will recover Glatz," he said, " at 
the general peace. Now we must march into Silesia in 
order not to lose everythingJD Frederick decided that he 
must go to the succour of Silesia. He hoped that Loudon 
might besiege Neisse and be out of the reckoning for 
a time. /^One crumb of comfort fell to him. Duke 
Ferdinand won a victory at Warburg, the English in his 
force greatly distinguishing themselves. Lord Granby and 
the English horse more than atoned for the failure of 
Lord George Sackville at Minden, and Maxwell's brigade 
covered itself with glory^^The English soldiers were 
always to be trusted when well led. All their failures in 
the Seven Years' War, wherever they occurred, were due to 
the incompetence of superior officers. But Warburg could 
have no effort on Silesia, where the king must go with 
Daun and Lacy dogging his steps and Soltikof awaiting 
him. How could he possibly escape disaster % 

On the 1st of August, Frederick crossed the Elbe at 
Zehren, six miles below Meissen, and encamped at Dallwitz. 
That same night Loudon was outside Breslau in Silesia, 
and began to bombard the place. The defence was in the 

^ For the exploits of Loudon see his Life, which forms another 
volume of this series. He was a brilliant general and, if he had been 
in chief command from the first, would have put a very different 
Austrian stamp on the Seven Years' War. 


Aug. 1760. 

hands of Tauentzien, a brave and skilful officer, hard as a 
flint. Nothing would make him and his 3,000 men yield, 
and Prince Henry, roused to activity, made a splendid 
march from Landsberg, the last three days from Glogau 
being at the rate of thirty miles per day. The prince struck 
at Loudon's supplies and forced him to abandon the siege. 
Soltikof, arriving near Breslau on the 8th, found, not 
Loudon and the magazines, but Prince Henry and the 
Prussians safely entrenched. Thus the Russians were 
checked, but Loudon was free. 

On Sunday, the 3rd of August, the king began a march 
almost without parallel. Daun had broken roads and 
bridges, made entanglements of trees here and there, and 
generally done all things possible to hinder a movement to 
Silesia. When the Prussians started, Frederick marched 
in three columns, the left column leading. They would 
form two lines and a reserve in case of attack. The 
most careful and business-like orders were given to meet 
all events, and may be studied in Tempelhof to this day 
with advantage to the military reader. The weather was 
sultry, the roads, as we have said, made difficult in 
places; yet the king marched to Bautzen, more than 100 
miles, in fivQ days, Daun in front of him. Lacy behind. 
Daun was at Bischofswerda when Frederick started on his 
march, and moved to Bautzen immediately. Hied, with 
Lacy's light troops, was ordered to harass Frederick's 
march. It may be worth while to follow the movements 
on a good map, remembering that the distance was over 
100 miles — Jomini calls it forty leagues — that five rivers 
had to be crossed, the Bober, the Queiss, the Neisse, the 
Spree, and the Elbe ; and that Frederick had with him a 
train of 2,000 wagons. 


Aug. 1760. 

August Zrd. — The king went to 
General Hulsen remained in 
Saxony, opposed to the im- 
perial army. 

August 4th. — The army marched 
to Ratibor and Lugau. 


August drd. — Daun 
Lacy to Lichtenau. 


went to 


August 5tJi. — The king to Dobers- 

August 6th. — To Ober-Rothwasser. 

August 7th. — The king to Bunz- 

August 8th. — Rested. 

August Uh. — Daun went 

Ried, from Bautzen to Weis- 

Lacy, near Bischofswerda. 

August 5th. — Daun moved to 

The reserve, under Prince 
Lowenstein, remained at 

Ried to Lobau. 

Lacy followed the Prussians 
and camped at Geblitz. 
August 6th. — Daun crossed the 
Queiss, and occupied the 
famous camp of Schmott- 

The reserve at Haugsdorf, be- 
hind the Neisse. 

Lacy, to Gorlitz. 

Ried, to Bernstadtl. 
August 7th. — Daun halted. 

The reserve closed up with 

Ried, to Haugsdorf. 

Lacy, to Mark-Lissa, and left 
Brentano at Steinkirch, on 
the Queiss. 

Beck, who up to this time had 
watched Prince Henry be- 
tween Bunzlau and Glogau, 
now joined the army, and 
formed the advance-guard. 


Aug. 1760. 

Arrived at Bunzlau, the Prussian army had a day's rest 
— much needed. Frederick knew that Baun was at Schmbtt- 
seifen with a post at Striegau, and that Lacy was on his 
left, both between the king and Land shut. His best 
chance seemed to be to march swiftly to Jauer, some forty 
miles south-east. If he could be there before Daun he 
might pass by Striegau and unite with Prince Henry. He 
marched twenty-five miles on the 9th, only to find Dauh 
opposite him across the Katzbach river, and Lacy on the 
hills at Goldberg. More terrible still was the fact 
that behind Daun was Loudon, whom Daun had called up 
with his army to help to crush the king; Daun, Lacy, 
Loudon, together about three times as strong in numbers 
as Frederick. On the 10th he made for Liegnitz to 
try the road by Parchwitz-Neumarkt-Leuthen. As he 
moved down the left bank, Daun marched near him on 
the right bank of the river, while the light troops of 
Lacy hung on the Prussian rear. Loudon marched near 
Daun. No escape this way and but a week's provisions 
left ! As he encamped at Liegnitz the enemy were beside 
and front of him. The Prussian army had marched fifteen 
miles that day, but at 11 p.m. it had to return on its steps, 
and at daybreak of the 11th was on its old ground, only 
Lacy between it and escape. Lacy was now on the other 
side of the river as rear-guard to Daun. The king crossed 
to attack him. Lacy withdrew, and before the Prussian 
baggage could come up Daun was back again with Loudon, 
nothing but a ravine being between the opposing armies. 
The Prussians encamped in a hollow of the hills at Seichau 
and remained there the next day, the 12th, because recon- 
naissances showed that the ways towards Breslau were 
beset by the enemy. Even the Prussian officers began 
to talk of a Maxen for the king himself. Mitchell, the 


Aug. 1Y60. 

English ambassador, thought the situation so dangerous 
that he burned all his secret papers and the cypher key. 
But at sunset of the 12th, Frederick crossed back to the 
left bank near Goldberg and pushed down the river again 
to Liegnitz, arriving about noon on the 13th. Hardly 
were the tents pitched when the Austrian armies came in 
sight and soon lay round the king. Daun was to the 
south,^ near Jauer, about seven miles distant ; Lacy the 
same distance south-west, near Goldberg ; Loudon a little 
nearer, between Jeschkendorf and Koischwitz in a north- 
easterly direction, separated from the king by the Katzbach. 
They were 90,000 to Frederick's 30,000, and, as if this 
were not enough, Czernichef, with a Kussian corps of 
24,000, crossed the Oder and stood in support of Loudon, 
but this last addition to his enemies was unknown to the 
king. On the 14th the Austrians made a grand recon- 
naissance in force, and Frederick drew out to meet them. 
He knew that plans would then be formed to attack him. 
His provisions were nearly exhausted. Never was general 
in a more dangerous situation. 

(Frederick's greatest successes had all been due to his 
taking the initiative, and he was not a man to rest idly while 
his enemies executed their plans.y The way to Parchwitz 
seemed still open and he had~magazines at Glogau. He 
decided to march in the night and encamp till daybreak on 
the heights of Pfaffendorf, sending on his empty wagons 
to Glogau, where they were to fill up and return to meet 
him in the neighbourhood of Parchwitz. He personally 
reconnoitred the Pfaffendorf position, marked the place for 
the camp, returned and lay down to sleep. Just then a 

drunken Irish ofhcer of the Austrian army appeared in camp 

^ See map above Battle of Liegnitz. For position of Frederick's 
camp see plan of battle, a — a, soutli-west of Liegnitz. 



14th-15th 17G0. 

and reported that a general attack was to be made upon 
him in the night, but the king saw no need to alter his 

The watch-fires burned brightly when the Prussian army 
moved at about 8 p.m. on the 14th, and were kept burning 
through the night by peasants. All round the horizon, 
except to the north, glimmered also the fires of the enemy. 
The Prussians marched in three columns ; the artillery and 
trains crossed the Schwartzwasser by a stone bridge in 
Liegnitz suburbs, the rest of the army by a pontoon bridge 
further down the stream. By one o'clock all were safely 
across. Still the horizon glittered with fires, outdone only 
by the stars which, Templehof tells us, shone with special 
brightness that night as the Prussians lay down on the 
short grass to snatch what rest they could. Few slept. 
Officers and men spoke in low tones of what the morrow 
might bring, Frederick himself sat half asleep by a watch- 
fire. The main army under the king lay northwards, 
almost fronting Loudon's camp. Ziethen's division was in 
the angle formed by the Schwartzwasser and Katzbach. 
All was tranquil and silent under the stars save the low 
murmurs of the men and the occasional voice of a superior 
officer growling deep commands. The clocks of Liegnitz 
chimed half-past two. 

Then the silence was broken by the galloping of a horse 
and an anxious voice exclaiming, " The king ? Where is 
the king ? " " Here," said Frederick. The hurried and 
anxious voice cried quickly, " The enemy in force has 
driven in my vedettes and is within 600 yards of our left 
wing ! " Frederick was on horseback in a moment, with 
sharp command to General Schenkendorf's battalion and its 
share of heavy guns to occupy the crown of the Wolf sberg. 
It was done in a moment, and the roar of ten twelve-pounders 


15th Aug. 1760. " ' "" 

broke the silence of the night, pouring case shot full in the 
faces of the advancing Austrians. The attack came from 
Loudon's corps, which had the task of seizing these very 
heights before daybreak. He too had left his fires burning 
and crossed the Katzbach near Pohlschildern. He marched 
without advanced guard, the better to surprise the baggage 
train which he had heard was near the place. In the other 
Austrian camps the watch-fires were burning without 
troops to warm. Lacy was marching to turn Frederick's 
old position, Daun was on his way to attack it in front. 

The sudden fire of the guns at close range threw the 
heads of Loudon's columns into confusion and prevented 
their formation ; but the Austrian general, knowing that 
retreat was rain in such a case, deployed what troops he 
could and sent them at the hill, bringing up batteries to 
support them. The columns in rear, hearing the firing, 
halted and gave time to the Prussians to form up rapidly 
and force back the troops first advanced. As Loudon's 
columns came gradually forward, he strove to gain the 
Prussian left flank, but the king extended always and 
checked him. This extension left a gap in the line near 
the village of Panten, but the column of Austrians which 
took that route had halted, and, before advantage could be 
taken of the breach in the line Mollendorf, of Leuthen 
fame, dashed at Panten with what troops he could collect 
and set it on fire, thus barring the passage there. Loudon 
ordered a charge of cavalry against the Prussian left in 
the dim light of early dawn. It was met by the regiment 
Bernburg swordless indeed, but with level bayonets and 
eager to win back the favour of the king. Bayonet met 
lance and sabre in close strife and, though greatly suffering 
and almost alone, the infantry drove back the horsemen. 
/Three dashing attacks were made by Loudon, then he 
^ <5 2 


Uth Aug. 17G0. 

withdrew under cover of a battery at BienowitzN He had 
lost 4,000 killed and wounded and 6,000 prisoners, total 
10,000 men, with eighty-two guns. His strength had been 
35,000 against Frederick's 15,000 or thereabouts. The 
Prussian loss was 1,800. 

Strange to say, Daun, though warned by his light troops 
about one o'clock that Frederick's camp was vacant, never 
heard the firing of the battle and moved slowly after the 
Prussians, warning Lacy also to follow. Daun sent his 
cavalry across the stone bridge, but they were broken and 
put to flight by Ziethen's artillery fire. Neither Daun nor 
Lacy could cross the stream. (|^Tne surprise had miscarried 
and the battle of Liegnitz was practically over in one hour 
and a half. \ ^^- ^ 

But th^rgame was not yet won. (Jioudon,^ broken but 
not destroyed, might still be dangerous, and Czernichef, 
with his 24,000 Russians, was on the hither side of the 
Oder. The Prussian army had suffered in the battle and 
was encumbered with the wounded. Dauh should have 
passed the Schwartz wasser or Katzbach, where he could by 
pontoons, and not rested till he had attacked the king 
again. Never could that cautious commander understand 
the fiery rapidity of Frederick. He thought that the 
Prussians must be delayed for some time, at least a day, 
and purposed to move on the morrow with a new plan. Not 
plans were wanted, however, but swift and straight strokes 
at an adversary weakened and almost beginning to hunger. 

Frederick made no delay. On the morning of the battle 
he found time to pack the severely wounded in empty 
meal wagons, the slighter cases on horseback, sometimes 
riding double. Some of the meal wagons were left on the 
field, cut to pieces, their teams taken for the captured 
cannon. Even the muskets of the dead and wounded were 


15th. .16th Aug. 17G0. 

not forgotten. Each cavalry soldier and each baggage 
driver slung one over his back. All this business was put 
in charge of General Saldern, who managed it in per- 
fect order. As Frederick rode round the battle-field he 
came upon one battalion standing grim and silent, black 
with gunpowder, sabreless, amidst a pile of its own 
dead, surrounded by heaps of Austrian cavalry. The 
king gazed silently at the faithful band. At last a 
sergeant stepped out of the ranks, saluted, and said, 
" Regiment Bernburg, your majesty." " Ah ! " said 
Frederick, "you did well. You shall have your swords 
back ; all that went before shall be forgotten." Tears 
came to the eyes of the gallant soldier as he replied, " You 
are then once more our gracious king." " Surely," came 
gently from the monarch who had once accused himself of 
having more sensibility than other men. The regiment 
broke into lusty and heartfelt cheers. 

About nine in the morning all was ready. The assembled 
army, all but Ziethen's corps, which was to follow in the 
afternoon with the various baggage, stood prepared to 
march. Its Te Deum was three volleys of musketry, and, 
when that was over, it moved off for P^^chwitz and the 
uncertain future there. Daun had not found time to inform 
the Russians, but Frederick had been quicker. He confided 
a despatch to a peasant who was to fall into Russian hands 
and give it up to save his life. It was addressed to 
Prince Henry, and said, ** Austrians totally defeated to- 
day ; now for the Russians. Do what we agreed upon." 
Czernichef at once fell back across the Oder and the way 
was clear, though the king could not be certain of it yet. 
There were now only two days' provisions. At Parchwitz 
next morning the question arose whether he should march 
for Breslau, uncertain of success, or to Glogau, where 


^^ 17th Aug. 1760, 

supplies were sure. /Frederick decided for Breslau with all 
its risks. The choice was bold. In his inarch the day 
before he had seen Austrians fall back before him from 
Parchwitz, and now his hussars were engaged with the 
patrols of Beck's corps, which soon appeared on the 
heights of Kumernig. In rear of Beck, about a league 
distant, marched the heavy columns of the main Austrian 
army. Still must the race for life continue ! Where were 
the Bussians % About mid-day the king rode on with a 
few hussars to the neighbourliood of Neumarkt, whence ho 
could see the surrounding country. Not an Austrian or 
Bussi^n was in sight, and Breslau was near. The race was 
won^^^,JIIe communicated with Prince Henry the same day, 
and sent on the advanced guard and prisoners as far as 
Borna. Next day, the 17th, the camp was at Hermannsdorf, 
only seven miles from Breslau. The Austrians fell back 
to Striegau. 

The slightest study of the events just related will show 
that the salvation of the king depended upon the mistakes 
and slowness of his enemies. But some of the Austrian 
marches had been quick enough, and mistakes are always 
made in war. That general wins who makes the fewest. 
Frederick was not only taking great strides in the art of 
war, but was teaching his enemies. Yet he was always 
too quick for them. In the movements during the first 
month of the campaign he showed more than ability. His 
nimble mind changed from plan to plan as each sudden 
occasion demanded, and his faults of temper were less 
conspicuous than usual. With misfortune following him 
from the last year into this, he retained the calmness of 
his intellect and the courage of his soul. In the midst of 
appalling dangers he always retained the initiative, and if 
Soltikof refused to join the war-dance round Frederick 


20th Aug. -9th Oct. 1760. 

because, as he said, there were enough already if they 
knew how to act, who can say that his caution was not 
justified by events ? The general feature of the struggle 
was that Frederick, with 30,000 men against 90,000 of his 
enemies, one-third of them under the bright and clever 
Loudon, out-manceuvred, out-fought them, and succeeded in 
his- adventure. 

L^^hile Frederick was in' Silesia Hiilsen was left with 
about 12,000 men to guard Saxony. He was attacked on 
the 20th of August by the Reichs Army, reinforced by an 
Austrian division, altogether 30,000 strong. The assault 
was weak and repulsed with loss, but Hiilsen soon found 
himself obliged to fall back to X^rgau, and Saxony was at 
the mercy of the king's enemies^^ 

'^ AftifillJj^g^i^^ tha— Rii5;fiiajrv« rfttirprlj but before goiug 

home determined to besiege Colberg for the second time. 
Goltz, with 12,000 Prussians, followed to observe the 
Russians. Prince Henry went to Breslau for his health, 
and. the king took to himself the rest of Henry's army, 
thus raising his strength to 50,000 men. Then ensued 
some weeks of manoeuvring between Daun, with Lacy and 
Loudon, and Frederick. The scene lay between Schweid- 
nitz and Glatz. The king was in bad health, but his 
enemies could get no advantage over him. Werner, 
detached from the corps of Goltz with 5,000 men, marched 
from Glogau to Colberg, 200 miles, in thirteen days, and 
compelled the Russians t© raise the siege on the 18th of 
September. The place had been splendidly defended by 
Heyde against a besieging force of 15,000. But on the 
20th of September Czernichef, with 20,000 from Sagan, 
and Lacy, on the 29th with 15,000 from Daun's force in 
Silesia, marched hurriedly on Berlin, and occupied the city 
on the 9th of October, where the Cossacks committed some 


4th Oct.. .2nd Nov. 1760. 

of their usual cruelties. Prince Eugene of Wiirtemberg, 
who had the Swedish business in hand this year, rushed 
with 5,000 men to help Berlin, marching forty miles in 
one day, and Hiilsen arrived from Saxony with 9,000. 
But they could do little, and the king himself had to 
leave Daun and make for Berlin on the 4th of October. 
The Cossacks were playing riot, . and even the Saxons, 
parties of whom were present, destroyed pictures, furniture, 
and antiques at Charlottenburg. On the 11th of October 
news came that Frederick was on the march, and forthwith 
Russians, Austrians, and Saxons disappeared, though the 
king was still five marches distant. Lacy went to Torgau 
the Russians towards Landsberg. 

In HUlsen's absence Torgau had been captured, and 
nothing now remained of Saxony. Daun returned then 
under orders from Yienna to maintain possession during 
the winter. When combined with the Beichs army he was 
100,000 strong, Loudon had marched for Kosel. Frederick 
reinforced Goltz to about 20,000, and with 30,000 men 
marched from Liibben on the 20th of October, crossed the 
Elbe fourteen miles below "Wittenberg on the 26th, and 
picked up Eugene and Hiilsen with their 14,000 at Jonitz 
next day. The Beichs army, which was at Diiben, west of 
Torgau, fell back on Leipsig. Daun moved towards them on 
the 26th of October as far as Eilenburg. Frederick rushed to 
Diiben on the 29th. Thence he detached Hiilsen to Leipsig 
to drive the Beichs army. Hiilsen arrived on the 30th of 
October in the evening, and next day pushed forward into 
the town. The timorous Beichs people, the army supposed 
to enforce the ban of the Empire against Frederick, had 
fled homewards. Daun fell back to his entrenchments at 
Torgau. Frederick formed magazines at Diiben, called 
Hiilsen back to him, and on the 2nd of IKTovember marched 


2.i.l-3ra Nov 1760. 

in four columns against Daun at Torgau. The king's army- 
lay that night at Schilda, south of Torgau. ^ 

The Austrian position was very strong. As it now 
faced Frederick, it lay nearly along the road to Diiben ; 
its left was covered by the Great Pond and the Rohr- 
graben, a channel for the conveyance of water from the 
heights of Siptitz, on which hill lay the main body. The 
drinking water for Torgau was carried by a pipe at the 
bottom of the Rohrgraben ; the stream itself was muddy 
and boggy, ending in the Entefang (decoy pond for ducks), 
which then broadened out into the Great Pond. The 
centre and left were on, the Siptitz height, which descended 
steeply to the south, less so on the north and west. The 
reserve corps was behind Grosswig. The fault of the 
position was that there was not full space for Daun's 
65,000 men to manoeuvre, especially was the artillery 
cramped for room. So Daun, still holding old-world ideas 
of that arm, placed his reserve artillery in his rear — we 
shall see presently with what curious result. Frederick 
judged that he must fight Daun, because otherwise the 
Russians would winter in his kingdom. But he also saw 
that the position was too strong for a regular attack any- 
where. He therefore risked a double attack, in front and 
rear, hoping that it might confuse the closely-packed 
Austrians. The Diagram School of Tacticians, with 
Jomini at their head, can easily prove that this was a 
faulty arrangement, because a perfect general would oppose 
it by holding one-half of the attackers back while 
marching to overwhelm the other half. But Frederick 
knew Daun's character, and took the risk as the least that 
he could see. His plan was to carry about half the army 

^ See plan, battle of Torgau, and map above it for the marches. 


3rd Nov. 1760. 

round tlie Austrian right and attack the rear, while 
Ziethen moved against the front. Both attacks were to 
be so timed as to begin at the same moment. 

At 6.30 on the morning of the 3rd of November, 1760, the 
king marched to fight what was to be his last battle and 
Daun's also. The march was about fourteen or fifteen 
miles altogether, Ziethen' s about half as much. Neglecting 
the baggage, which moved off westward of the march, 
there were three columns in Frederick's half of the army. 
The right column, nearest to Daun, was commanded by 
the king in person, and consisted chiefly of infantry. It 
was to move by Mockrehna, Weidenhayn, Neiden. Hiilsen's 
column, also infantry, was to sweep further west and come 
in about Elsnig. The third column, containing nearly the 
whole cavalry of both wings and a few infantry, was to go 
still further out and arrive also near Elsnig. Ziethen's 
wing was to separate itself at the junction of the Torgau- 
Leipsig road", follow that road to the Butter Street, then 
along the Butter Street to the Austrian position, west of 
the highest elevation of the Siptitz hill. 

The success of such a manoeuvre as this depends on 
accuracy of execution ; and events soon went wrong with 
both wings of the Prussian army. Daun, as usual, had 
placed light troops in the woods through which the 
columns had to march, and was soon informed of the 
king's movement. He made what shift he could to form 
his troops, facing north and north-west instead of south. 
Countermarching his main body so that the best regiments 
would face Frederick, he left the reserve still at Grosswig, 
and posted Lacy's corps between Zinna and the suburb of 
Torgau, with instructions to guard what had now become 
the rear of the army. The movement cost time, the space 
was small. Daun saw that he could not well move the 


8rd Nov. 1760. 

reserve artillery at the same time, and therefore left it in 
front of the new position, along the whole of which it 
stretched. Archenholtz gives the number of guns as 400, 
but this is probably an exaggeration. It is certain that 
Daun was strong in artillery, but 400 guns would be six 
per 1,000 men, without counting the battalion guns. Be 
this as it may, the number was great, and the whole front 
garnished with guns. The left of the main body was 
throw^ back en potence. The right was covered by a series 
of intricate brooks, the centre and left by an old abattis, 
remaining since Prince Henry occupied the position, and 
broken in parts. 

Ziethen m.oved as directed till he reached the Butter 
Street and began to turn up there. But there he met some 
of Lacy's detachments and suffered himself to be drawn 
astray by them. He deployed his columns and moved to 
the right front, where he soon became engaged in a 
fruitless cannonade with Lacy : fruitless because the 
obstacles in his way prevented him from pushing on to 
close quarters. This was the first error. 

As the king's columns moved through the dripping 
woods — for it was raining — the wheels of the artillery 
sunk in the soft sand of the roads, and the guns were 
delayed. Frederick, wishing to keep punctual appointment 
with Ziethen, pushed forward with his infantry. Thus it 
fell out that the right column, intended to be the first line, 
arrived near Elsnig about one o'clock, alone, and almost 
without artillery. Hiilsen had been delayed on the march, 
and the third column, with the cavalry, had lost its way in 
the woods. Frederick sent his adjutants to find and hurry 
on the laggards, and began to reconnoitre Daun's line. The 
right wing, which he had intended to attack, was unap- 
proachable because of the boggy brooks, so he drew back 


8rd Nov. 1760, 

his force into the woods again, and moved to his right to 
attack Daun's left, at the north-west corner, where the 
potence part began and the ahattis seemed defective. Still 
neither Holstein with the cavalry nor Hlllsen with the 
infantry could be heard of. The sound of Ziethen's 
cannonade had been heard for some time, and the 
impatient king felt that his lieutenant might be beaten 
alone, he knew not where, unless he himself should 
strike in. 

Frederick had with him only seven battalions of grena- 
diers, one regiment of hussars, and Ramin's brigade ; yet 
he determined to attack. The grenadiers were formed as 
a front line, Ramin's brigade as a second, and his sole 
artillery, twenty guns, were ordered to support the move- 
ment from a position at the left of the wood. In this 
campaign the germ of the modern system had been created. 
The infantry was formed into brigades of about five bat- 
talions each, and every brigade had attached to it a portion 
of the reserve artillery — ten guns. Two such batteries 
were with Frederick. It would be vain to commence an 
artillery duel under such circumstances. The grenadiers 
crossed the broken ahattis and moved forward to attack. 
Then the Austrian guns opened fire with grape, and dealt 
frightful destruction in the ranks of the grenadiers. 
Stutterheim's brigade was absolutely destroyed, nearly 
all the officers and men were killed and wounded by the 
" hellish fire," as the king called it. The grenadiers ceased 
to exist as a body. Their remnants were charged by 
Austrian cavalry, and out of the seven battalions there 
remained not men enough to make one. The two batteries 
issued from the wood to support the attack, but were 
instantly destroyed, Tempelhof, who saw the wreck, says, 
" The batteries which the artillery sent to the left of the 


8rd Nov. 1760. 

wood were annihilated in an instant. They had not even 
time to load their guns. Already the officers, the gunners, 
and the drivers were either killed or wounded by the 
artillery fire of the enemy." Such was the effect of 
Daun's accidentally leaving a mass of artillery in front of 
his army. Yet in the face of such facts as these, there are 
still men who doubt the physical effect of field-artillery fire. 

Seeing that the 6,000 grenadiers were reduced to 600, 
certain Austrian battalions rushed out in pursuit of them, 
but coming upon the second line — brigade Ramin — were 
at once checked, driven back, and accompanied so closely 
in their retreat that the Austrian artillery could not crush 
Kamin's brigade. The brigade was, however, driven back 
ere long. The fight had begun about 2 p.m. ; it was now 
three, and Frederick's first column badly beaten. The 
king, who had been with the grenadiers, remained per- 
fectly cool. Turning to one of his adjutants, a grandson 
of the old Prince of Dessau, he said mournfully, " All goes 
ill to-day ; my friends are quitting me. I have just heard 
of the death of your brother." This thought, occurring in 
the midst of the " hellish fire," marks the character of the 
man who in such a moment could sorrow over a dead 
friend. Another story is told of him later in the battle, 
equally characteristic. He was struck down by a spent 
ball, and was unconscious for some time. Recovering 
himself, he sat up and saw Berenhorst bending over him 
in anxiety. In a gruff voice the king exclaimed, " What 
are you doing here ? Go and catch runaways." 

Shortly after three o'clock Hiilsen arrived ; the third 
column not up yet. By this time a larger force of guns 
was gathered, and, engaging Daun's mass, drew to them 
some of its fire. Hlilsen's troops attacked again, and 
actually closed with the Austrians. Some success was 


3rd Nov. 1760. 

gained, but Daun brought up the reserve from Grosswig 
and drove Hlilsen back. 

It was half-past four, and the sun had gone down when 
Holstein arrived at last with the cavalry. In the growing 
darkness the horsemen charged the right of -Daun's line, 
while the infantry attacked again on the left. The mass 
of guns was now of less use, and the cavalry had many 
successes. The Austrian formation was broken, and there 
ensued in the falling night a strange, confused struggle 
between isolated bodies of men. The armies were inter- 
mingled, and none could say what issue there would be on 
the morrow, when the wearied and wounded king left the 
field to seek some repose at Elsnig. Daun also was 
wounded, and went back to sleep at Torgau. 

But all was not yet over. Ziethen, contented at first 
with his artillery play against Lacy, heard, towards even- 
ing, the fire of Frederick's people receding — a bad sign. 
He began to work to his left, in order to communicate 
with and help the king. The ground checked him till 
Mollendorf, always ready in trouble, found him a way 
over the Rbhrgraben and its bogs. The road was the 
Butter Street along which Ziethen was to have gone at 
first. It led close to the key of the position, the highest 
point of the Siptitz hill. Ziethen ai>t«,cked there, and 
Hlilsen, bivouacking on the battle-field, put together what 
troops he could collect and led them to the sound of 
Ziethen's firing. Old HUlsen himself had no horse more ; 
all his had been killed, but he went into action again, 
mounted on a gun-carriage. For an hour this last struggle 
raged ; then the Austrians drew back gradually to Torgau 
and crossed the river, Lacy's corps moving on the hither 
bank. (After_all, Ziethen had repaired his fault, and the 
victory was for FrugJ 


Nov. 1760. 

The battle-field remained in strange confusion. Siptitz 
hill was crowded with the dead and the wounded, who 
suffered horribly from want of water and from the bitter 
cold. Down in the woods blazed fires, where in many- 
cases sat Austrians and Prussians together, agreeing that 
to-morrow's dawn should decide which side had won, and 
which of the parties now assembled in mutual goodwill 
were victors, which prisoners. 

After the battle Daun withdrew to the Plauen Chasm. 
Frederick made demonstrations towards Dresden, but 
finally went into winter quarters near Meissen. 

The battle of Torgau cost the Austrians above 12,000 
killed and wounded, with 8,000 prisoners ; total, 20,000 
men, and forty-five guns. The Prussians lost between 
13,000 and 14,000, of whom 4,000 were prisoners. They 
lost more than 5,000 in the first attack alone, chiefly from 
the fire of the great artillery mass accidentally placed in 
the front of Daun's army. 

(Roderick's campaign of 1760 has been much criticised, 
especially by Jomini, who cannot see anything but his own 
diagrams. He thinks that the king should have taken 
the initiative early and marched against the Austrians. 
But he forgets the great difficulties Frederick had in 
assembling an army at all, and also that almost to the 
last he hoped for peace. No doubt he made mistakes and 
his enemies made more; but his marches, the splendid 
courage and boldness of his battle-strokes, his lofty and 
steadfast endurance, will remain models of military cha- 
racter for all time. <^th forces greatly inferior in number 
to those of his enemies, and of a quality gradually 
falling off, he warded off destruction, gained two battles, 
and remained victor at the end of the campaign. 
Ferdinand also held his own against the French. 









A.D. 1761—1779. 
^ 1761. 

^!]A*ter 1760 the Seven Years' "War languished. The allies 
adopted the expedient of refusing to exchange prisoners, 
thus wearing out Prussia by mere friction against the vast 
hosts which surrounded Frederick. The king found it 
impossible to recruit his armies, and they dwindled rapidly. 
/The sufferings of France were hardly possible to bear. 
War was driving people into the agony which afterwards 
found expression in the Ilevolution."^ Austria was pressed 
for money and even men. En^and alone had gained any 
real advantage so far^ The French colonies and naval 
power were falling before the generals jind admirals whom 
war discovered and Pitt quickly usedjL-- Wolfe's capture of 
Quebec on the 13th September, 1759i decided the fate 


Nov. 1760. 

of Canada ; tlie destruction of the French fleets in the same 
year by Hawke and his comrades annihilated French power 
at sea, and the fall of Pondichery on the 26th of January, 
1761, left British arms without rival in India. Yet the 
negotiations for peace in 1759 had failed. Bruised and 
weary, the nations dragged themselves into the fight 

The toils and privations of war were telling on Frede- 
rick. In a letter to Madame Camas, written in November, 
1760, he describes himself as leading "the life of a dog." 
*' All this has made me so old that you would hardly know 
me again. On the right side of my head the hair is all 
grey j my teeth break and fall out ; my face is wrinkled 
like a petticoat ; my back bent like the bow of a fiddle ; 
my spirit sad and downcast like a monk of La Trappe." 
He now had frequent fits of gout, and had been forced to 
give up his famous suppers for four years past. Still, with 
suffering body, ruined finances, and weakened army, he 
had no more thought of yielding one acre of Silesia than 
he had in the first passages of the Seven Years' War. 
Choiseul was negotiating for peace, but Pitt was stiff as to 
the terms ; ^nd later in the year came the f am ily compact 
between the courts of France and Spain, which forced 
England into war with the Bourbons of Madridj.3 
<^11 Frederick's exertions produced him only 96,000 men 
for defence of Silesia and Saxony this year. Prince Henry 
had to face Daun in Saxony ; the king himself stood in 
Silesia against Loudon and the Russians under Butterlin. 
Loudon opened the campaign by advancing against Goltz, 
near Schweidnitz, in April. Goltz had only 12,000 to his 
adversary's 30,000, but posted himself so well that Loudon 
could not attack him. Beinforcements came gradually 
to Loudon, raising his army to 72,000, but orders from 


18th Aug.-lGth Dec. 1761. 

Yienna obliged him to remain inactive till he could be 
joined near Neisse by the Russians with 60,000. . Goltz, 
manoeuvring against the Russians, was taken prisoner. 
The king himself delayed the junction of his enemies for 
some time, but could not now offer battle. The junction 
took place the 18th of August. He then struck at Loudon's 
communications, but the thrust was well parried, and on the 
20th of Augusi^Frederick, for the first time, was reduced to 
an attitude of pure defenceX He formed an intrenched 
camp at Bunzelwitz, ancTlay there, blocking the way to 
Schweidnitz. Loudon's intreaties could not persuade the 
Russians to join him in full force to attack the position, 
and on the 9th of September Butterlin's army fell back across 
the Oder, leaving 20,000 of his men to act under Loudon. 
Frederick remained a fortnight longer in the camp of 
Bunzelwitz, but was then forced to go, as his army was 
eating up the magazines of Schweidnitz. Again he moved 
against Loudon's magazines, but the Austrian general 
boldly marched for Schweidnitz, and captured the place by 
assault on the night of the 30th September — 1st October. 
No fight toojk place between Loudon and the king. They 
both went into winter quarters in December — Prussians 
at Strehlen, Austrians at Kunzendorf, and Russians about 
Glatz. Frederick went to Breslau, after escaping by a 
hair's breadth an attempt to capture his person by the 
treachery of Warkotsch. Colberg, besieged for the third 
time, was splendidly defended by Heyde, but had to 
capitulate on the 16th of December from lack of provisions. 
{^^ the western theatre Ferdinand defeated Broglio and 
Soubise at Yellinghausen, the English contingent again 
behaving gloriously. Major Mauvillon speaks of the Eng- 
lish as thoroughly brave, but so mixed in character of the 
men that it was almost impossible to preserve discipline in 



the way of drink and plunder. " Tie cavalry exhaust a 
district much sooner than the horse of other armies. The 
officers, who gain their promotion by purchase, understand, 
with few exceptions, nothing of their profession. Generals 
and ensigns, it is all the same. Their self-indulgence is so 
great, especially in sleep, that they are often led into mili- 
tary negligence. Seldom thinking of surprising, they are 
themselves exposed to surprise ; and a natural arrogance of 
character leads them to despise their enemy, and to be 
exceedingly difficult to work with harmoniously." Such was 
a faithful portrait of the English in the Seven Years' War. 
Gallant fighters, but not professional soldiers. 

Prince Henry and Daun manoeuvred skilfully through- 
out the campaign, but never came to serious blows. 

Frederick is described as being very gloomy in mind 
this winter. The end of the year left him with but 60,000 
men in Saxony, Silesia, and the north. Eugene of Wur- 
temburg had 5,000 to hold back the SwedesJrince Henry 
25,000 in Saxony, the king himself 30,000. (^ut the agony 
of France was increasing ; Maria Theresa hacl to discharge 
20,000 men from want of money, and Frederick's bitter 
enemy, "cette infame Catin du Nord," was failing fast in 
health. A worse blow to the king than the loss of a 
battle had been the fall of Pitt in October, and with him 
all hope of English subsidies^ !StiTl7 the enemies of Prussia 
were almost exhausted. One more year of brave and stub- 
born resistance, and Prussia must be left in peace. By 
extraordinary exertions and a power of administrative 
organisation, which was one of his greatest qualities 
Frederick not only kept up his 60,000, but doubled their 
number. In the spring he had 70,000 for his Silesian 
army, 40,000 for Prince Henry in Saxony, and 10,000 for 
the Swedes or other purposes. Best news of all, the 

R 2 


J,^ 6th Jan. -20th July 1762. 

(^Uzarina died on the Stli of January, 1762, and Peter, "who 
succeeded her — only for a short time, poor boy — was an 
ardent admirer of the great Jting.) Frederick at once re- 
leased and sent home his Russian prisoners, an act which 
brought back his Prussians from Eussia. On the 23rd 
FebruaryvEeteiLdeclax^ -his intention to be at peace and 
amity with Frederick, concluded peace on the 5th of May, 
and a treaty of alliance a month later. The Swedes, follow- 
ing suit, declared peace on the 22nd of May, and Frederick 
could now give his sole attention to the Austria ns. \ He 
even believed that the Grand Turk was about to seize the 
opportunity and invade Hungary. Czernichef, with the 
contingent once on Loudon's side, was now allied to Frede- 
rick, but little value came of him. Loudon had done too 
much last year to please his rivals, and was now placed 
under the orders of slow Daun, who again undertook the 
Silesian struggle, only the Keich's army being used for 
Saxony. Amalgamated with the Eeich people were 
35,000 Austrians under Serbelloni. 

Daun took the field early in May, disposing his troops 
for the defence of Schweidnitz. Frederick awaited the 
junction of Gzernichef with his 20,000, who arrived at 
Lissa, near Leuthen, the 30th of June, and the king at once 
began to manoeuvre against Daun. The Austrians took up 
a strong position and fortified it. Frederick formed a plan 
to attack it, when, on the 17th of July, Czernichef informed 
him that there was a revolution at Petersburg and the 
Russian contingent was ordered home. Frederick, fertile 
in resources, persuaded Czernichef at least to keep the 
change secret, and to look like an ally for three days more. 
He disposed his troops, including the Russians, so as to 
threaten apparently different points round the circle of 
Daun's fortified hills. On the 20th of July he drove the 


20th July-29th Oct. 1762. 

Aiistrians out of the village of Burkersdorf and established 
there a battery of forty guns. Of all the dispositions he 
had made, only two forces were to act in reality. All the 
rest, including Czernichef, was mere semblance. Wied, 
with one force, was to attack Ludwigsdorf ; Mollendorf, 
with another detachment, was to carry the Burkersdorf 
heights as soon as Wied had performed his part of the 
business. It was not a battle, strictly speaking, only a 
combination of small operations intended to make Daun 
move. Everything went according to calculation. The 
forty guns made a great noise against enemies who kept 
well out of the way, except one cavalry regiment which 
appeared and was crushed by the fire of the artillery. 
Wied carried the position assigned him for attack, and 
Mollendorf was equally successful. As usual, the fortified 
position was a failure when firmly attacked, and Daun, 
declining to fight a general action, retired southwards in 
the evening. The king then laid siege to Schweidnitz 
which resisted bravely, defended by Guasco, but fell on 
the 9th of October, after the explosion ofjj magazine two 
days before had breached the works. U^un retired to 
Glatz and Bohemia. Frederick marched on the 29th of 
October to besiege Dresden^ Daun followed heavily. 
Like a prize-fighter knockeiJout of time, he had no more 
fight in him. 

Prince Henry had two affairs with the Reich's army and 
its Austrian contingent. Forced to retire from Freyburg 
on the 15th, he afterwards attacked them on the 29th of 
October and defeated them by a turning movement. They 
had 40,000, he 30,000. The Austrian contingent suffered 

/in the western theatre Ferdinand held his own and had 
His'usual successes. His part in the war was to defend 


15th Feb. -30th March, 1763. 

only, and he never failed to show high qualities as a 

Thus, nowhere had Frederick's enemies succeeded in 
crushing his defences. For seven years the little kingdom 
of Prussia had held her ground against the three great 
military powers, France, Austria, and E-ussia. All were 
now equally exhausted. L The constancy, courage, and 
ability of Frederick were rewarded at last ; on the 15th 
of February, 1763, the treaty of Hubertsburg was signed, 
by which Austria once more agreed to the cession of Sil esiaTj 
Prussia was now a Great Power like the rest, her greatness 
resting on no shams, as she had proved.(Jlngland had her 
freedom of the seas, America was for ever to be English 
as it is to this day, though not under our QueenJ The 
enormous responsibility of India also fell upon this country 
— a great glory and a great danger^Jk^rance took her 
natural place instead of that which Belle-Isle had devised 
for her. Her kings had gambled with the stolen pros- 
perity of the nation as their stake, and all they had won was 
the place of a public byword for all time. Revolution had 
been brewing for many a year. The Seven Years' War 
with the sufferings entailed on the people brought the 
convulsion nearer. 

On the 30th of March, Frederick reached Berlin, entering 
the city quietly. He went straight to the queen's apart- 
ments and supped there. At last the longed-for peace 
had come. Prussia, then, had issued victorious out of the 
war ; but how terrible had been her sacrifices ! Whole 
districts had been so ravaged that the traces of the houses 
were hard to discover. Towns ruined and partly burnt. 
No fields sown, no corn to make bread. Sixty thousa,nd 
horses required before the ground could be ploughed. (LThe 
population of the country was reduced by half a million 



and was now only four millions, tliat is, the people had 
been more than decimated. ^^ In some places noble and 
peasant alike were ruined. Tradesmen dare give no credit. 
The towns had no police and no judges ; sometimes not even 
tax-gatherers. The people had fallen into ways of license, 
and those who had means were become avaricious, grasping, 
and oppressive to their neighbours. 

/Frederick set to work at once. Fortunately he had 
twenty-five millions of thalers collected in preparation for 
the next campaign. He supplied money to the most 
necessitous, and seed-corn where there was none. He 
turned all his artillery horses into teams for the plough, 
established banks for lending money on landed security, 
re-created the law courts and the police. The coinage was 
restored to its former state in fourteen months. In two 
years the country was reviving, and in seven most of the 
traces of war had disappeared. This renovation was per- 
haps the greatest labour of his life, certainly that in which 
he took most pride. 

Some of his measures were ill-judged. For instance, he 
imported from France the system of gathering taxes and 
the very men to carry it out, for he had few capable left in 
his own dominions. To fill his own treasury for the cost 
of government and the chances of war, he had a whole 
corps of financial inquisitors, who came to be called " cellar- 
rats " among the people-. No house, no room was secure 
from their visitations. They entered private dwellings 
when they pleased, by day or by night, to search for things 
contraband. Their decisions were arbitrary, and there was 
no appeal but to the king. It was even said that they 
introduced contraband goods in order to exact unjust fines. 
Such hard measure dealt to an impoverished people caused 
an access of unpopularity. Yet Frederick was harder on the 



comparatively well-to-do than on the poorer classes, which 
he won by his kindly, familiar ways. 

One day, riding through the streets of Berlin, he saw a 
crowd of people craning their necks to look at a picture 
posted high up on a wall. Going up to examine it he found 
that it was a caricature of himself, as a miser, grinding 
coffee. He ordered his groom to hang it lower, so that the 
people should not make their necks ache with looking at it. 
Instantly the crowd cheered him and tore the print into 
a thousand pieces. Another time it was proposed to him 
to lay a tax on butchers' meat. ** No," said the king, '* I 
am by my office advocate of the poor and the soldier, and 
have to plead their cause." Yet he was the advocate of 
women also, even in high station. We have seen how he 
told his secretaries always to write courteously to women. 
When one of his cellar-rats treated the Princess Elizabeth 
of Brunswick discourteously in the matter of a dress which 
came direct from France, that noble lady slapped his face. 
The man complained to the king of the dishonour done to 
him, but Frederick replied, " The loss of the excise dues 
shall fall upon me, the dress shall remain with the princess, 
the slaps to him who has received them. As to the alleged 
dishonour, I entirely relieve the complainant from that : 
never can the touch of a beautiful hand dishonour the face 
of an officer of customs." 

There has been much controversy on the good and evil 
of Frederick's measures. Into this question we cannot 
enter here. The idea of free trade had not then been 
invented, nor has it yet taken much root in Germany. Like 
all other monarchs of that time, Frederick regarded his 
people as children, whose purses, habits, and lives it was his 
duty to regulate. Unlike other crowned heads, he laboured 
incessantly for what he believed to be the good of his 


1763-1779. * 

people, and his measures, right and wrong, issued finally 
in prosperity for Prussia. During all his financial and 
magisterial work he never forgot the army. He was as 
strict with the officers as if in the presence of an enemy, 
and any whose regiments had to receive blame at the 
parades and manoeuvres found themselves dismissed into 
oblivion without mercy. 

In 1779 occurred the famous case of the miller Arnold. 
The rights of the question matter little. A mill was 
rented by Arnold and the rent punctually paid till a landed 
proprietor, higher up the stream, diverted most of the 
water to fill a fish pond. Arnold could no longer pay rent, 
and in process of time was turned out and the mill sold 
over his head. The law gave judgment against the miller, 
who appealed to the king. Frederick, a believer in military 
sense and equity, appointed a colonel to revise the judg- 
ment of the lawyers. The officer reported in Arnold's 
favour, but the High Court of Berlin confirmed the decision 
against him. Frederick clapped the judges in prison and 
ordered his minister of justice, von Zedlitz, to pronounce 
sentence of deprivation upon them. Zedlitz firmly, but 
respectfully refused. Frederick again ordered, and threat- 
ened him with his displeasure. Zedlitz was still immovable, 
and at last the king wrote the sentence of deprivation 
himself and had it carried out, though society of all ranks 
in Berlin supported the judges. Zedlitz, instead of punish- 
ment, received commendation from Frederick for acting 
according to his conscience. This was Frederick's idea of 
reforming judicial administration. It will hardly commend 
itself to English opinion, and was, in fact, arbitrary to an 
extreme degree. Still there ran through the whole tissue 
of extravagant self-will a golden cord of support to the poor 
and weak against the powerful. 


■ 1763-1779. 

His curious tolerance of religious opinions is shown in a 
letter written by him in 1768, wherein he says : — 

" It is unfortunate for the human race, madam, that men cannot 
be tranquil — but they never and nowhere can. A parson (at 
Neufchatel) had set forth in a sermon that, considering the 
immense mercy of God, the pains of hell could not last for ever. 
The synod shouted murder at such a scandal, and has been 
struggling ever since to get the parson exterminated. The affair 
was in my jurisdiction, for your royal highness must know 
that I am pope in that country. Here is my decision. Let those 
parsons who make for themselves a cruel and barbarous God be 
eternally damned as they desire and deserve ; and let the parsons 
who conceive God as good and merciful enjoy the plenitude of 
His mercy. However, madam, my sentence has failed to calm 
men's minds ; the schism continues, and the number of the 
damnatory theologians prevails over the others." 

What horror such lax theology must have created at the 
time ! How mild and just it seems now \ 
C^^^All the acts of Frederick's declining years sink into 
insignificance beside the partition of Pnlajid j It seemed 
cruel and cold-blooded at the time. Its consequences have 
affected Europe to this day and will continue ta affect it. 
The partition came about in this wise, ^n gland, changing 
her policy when Bute succeeded Pitt, turned her back upon 
Frederick and would have left him to destruction. France 
and Austria remained bitter against him. The situation 
of Prussia forced her to have a strong friend, and the king 
rested upon Russia, with which power he cemented a firm 
alliance. J^But Russia had obtained almost complete in- 
fluencfe-Oyer PoIan3"'7hiring the Seven Years' War, when 
the unfortunate little kingdom had always been a base of 
operations for the Russian armies. So great was this 
infiuence that the Czarina was able to seat on the Polish 



throne soon after the peace, one of her discarded lovers, 
Stanislaus Poniatowski. Poland was little more than a 
Russian province when the Confederation of Bar, formed by 
a party of nobles in 1768, took up arms in defence of the 
liberties of their country. T^ Russians defeated them 
and drove them into Turkey. - The Turks declared war on 
Eussia, but had no success, and had to see Moldayia^and 
Wallachia — now Roumania — overrun by the enemyV^JIhen, 
as now, Austria could not bear to see Russia pushing con- 
quests across the Danube, and accordingly mobilised an 
army on the frontiers, threatening war against Russia. By 
his treaty of alliance with the Czarina, Frederick was 
bound to furnish either a contingent of troops or a large 
sum in money if Russia should go to war. ^This was in- 
convenient to him, and there was even a worseManger. It 
might be that Austria and Russia should agree to divide 
Turkey between them and then break up Prussia. I do 
not care to split hairs over the question, " Who first pro- 
posed the partition of Poland 1 " It seems certain that, in 
the later stages at any rate, Frederick was the most 
energetic in pushing the affair. He has never attempted 
to defend himself, nQ^r did he even seem to think that the 
step needed defence. The Czarina, like Frederick, never 
thought of making a difficulty about it, and agreed to stay 
her hand in the south in consideration of Austria's co- 
operation in the partition of Poland. Maria Theresa alone 
showed human feeling and a sense of political morality. 
Her letter to Kaunitz, written in February, 1772, strikes 
the true note of the judgment of history on this question. 
She says : *' When all my lands were invaded, and I knew 
not where I could give birth to my child in peace, I trusted 
in my good right and the help of God, but in this thing, 
where not only public law cries to Heaven against us, but 



also all justice and sound reason, I must confess that never 
in my life have I been so troubled, and I am ashamed to 
show my face. Let the prince [Kaunitz, her first minister] 
consider what an example we are giving to the whole 
world if we risk our honour and reputation for a miserable 
piece of Poland or of Moldavia and Wallachia. I see well 
that I am alone and no longer in vigour ; therefore, though 
not without the greatest sorrow, I let things take their 
course." A few days after her official assent was given in 
these words : " JiFlaceti since so many great and learned 
men will have it so ; \lQut long after I am dead it will be ; «- 
known what this violation of all that was hitherto held V^-^^-^ 
sacred and just will give rise to;' ^Ttf Frederick was in 
advance of his time in religious toleimion, Maria Theresa 
was so in political morali ty\ Yet it must not be forgotten 
that the Seven Years' War was brought about because she 
had agreed with E-ussia and France to partition Prussia, 
the King of Poland being a consenting party. We have 
also to consider that the freedom of Poland was past 
praying for. The country would soon have been annexed 
by Pussia. There was no political morality to hinder that. 
The partition took place iiijYT2>x The portion assigned 
to Frederick comprised 9,465 square miles, against 62,500 
acquired by Austria and 87,500 by Russia. But the 
territory was important,^r it connected east Prussia with 
Pomerania and the rest of Frederick's dominions^ Above 
all, the partition staved off a general war. Poor Poland 
went forth into the desert as the scapegoat of Europe. 
Since then the cries of the Russian Poles have never 
ceased their shrill lament in the ears of the civilised 
world ; he would be a bold man who should say 
that Maria Theresa's prophecy is not still awaiting ful- 
filment. Besides their undoubted courage and patriotism, 



the Poles, like the Italians before they were free, have a 
sort of feminine power of exciting sympathy. The outer 
world has for many years gazed more or less calmly upon 
the moral and physical suffering of Christian populations 
under the Turks ; Alsace and Lorraine have been tossed 
from Germany to France and from France to Germany ; 
Denmark has been crushed and partitioned ; Nice and 
Savoy, the very birthplace of the royal house of Italy, 
have been sold to France for her help in a war. Yet 
never have the woes of Armenia, or even, except for 
a brief interval, of Bulgaria, created so much sympathy 
as those of Poland. Denmark, Alsace, Lorraine, Nice, 
Savoy, are interesting to their immediate neighbours ; the 
heart of Europe has almost forgotten them. To this 
very day the destruction of Polish nationality is felt like 
a new wound by every generous s,oul. (^he sorrows of 
Poland are the sorrows of the world^) 

Frederick found his new acquisition in a miserable state. 
Keligious persecution had been rampant in the land. 
Only a few German towns were intact. The rest lay 
almost in ruins. The people had ceased to inhabit the 
houses, which were tumbling about their ears, but dwelt 
in wretched . cellars. Of the forty houses in the market- 
place at Culm, twenty-eight had no doors, no roofs, no 
windows, and no owners. Other towns were in a similar 
condition. The country people hardly knew the taste of 
bread. Few villages possessed an oven. The weaving 
loom was rare, the spinning-wheel unknown. The main 
article of furniture was a crucifix and a vessel of holy 
water. It was a desolate land without discipline, without 
law, without a master. On 9,000 English square miles 
lived 500,000 souls, about fifty-five to the square mile.^ 
' Freytag, Neue Bilder aus dem Lebendeutsches Volkes. Leipzig, 1862. 



/^ 1772-1778. 

At the toucli of Frederick's vivifying and reorganising 
hand, these horrors of darkness were put to flight. The 
country was organised on the Prussian system, and German 
order soon prevailed. The cities were re-peopled, and new 
streets arose. In the first year the great canal of Bromberg 
was dug, which connects the Vistula with the Oder and 
the Elbe ; vast tracts of land were drained by the canal 
and immediately peopled by German colonists. The face of 
Prussian Poland was changed and a new life was infused 
into the country. As with Prussia, so with Poland. 
Frederick was arbitrary in his regulations ; but at least he 
transformed misery into comparative comfort and brought 
order out of chaos. 

\The partition of Poland salved for a time the soreness 
of Austria ; but the Emperor Joseph, who had succeeded 
his father in 1765, was full of ambition. He professed 
the greatest admiration for Frederick. Yet in 1775, when 
the king had a fit of gout and reports were spread abroad! 
that he was dying, Joseph prepared an army and arranged 
for its concentration in Bohemia, whence it was to march 
through Saxony to the frontiers of Brandenburg, and there 
give the new king the alternative of surrendering Silesia 
or being overwhelmed before he could assemble his troops. 
Frederick recovered, and was informed of the preparations, 
which, of course, collapsed instantly. /It would be well if 
those who never tire of proclaiming Frederick's bad faith, 
would sometimes deign to remember the conduct of his 

r In i778 the Emperor Joseph claimed a large portion of 
the Bavarian inheritance, just fallen in by the death of 
the elector without issue. Frederick distinctly vetoed the 
transaction. He proclaimed himself the champion of the 
other claimants and the protector of that Reich, which had 


1778-1 3th May 1779. 

placed him under its ban some years before. As the 
negotiations went on, step by step, and seemed less likely 
to reach a favourable end, the king's military measures 
were gradually taken. He was to march on Bohemia by 
Glatz and Nachod, while Prince Henry, with an equal force, 
moved by Dresden. The plan was exactly similar to the 
campaign of 1866, and must have had a similar termina- 
tion, for the Austrians were not ready. But Frederick 
did not wish for war. One delay succeeded another, and 
when at last the king and Prince Henry moved they found 
Loudon and Lacy with 250,000 men occupying a strong 
intrenched camp which lay between the two Prussian 
armies and prevented their junction. Nearly fifty miles of 
country was intrenched in a masterly manner, no less than 
1,500 guns being placed in advantageous positions. In his 
youth the king would undoubtedly have attacked and 
carried some portion of this position, and the young blood 
of his army chafed against his inaction. But, like most 
men who know war well, he had conceived a horror of it, 
and was determined not to strike a blow without absolute 
necessity. So passed the summer, autumn, and the early 
/Winter, the king having started from Berlin on April 5th. 
I On November the 27th the Czarina Catherine interfered 
and offered to mediate. Her offer was snatched at by both 
the combatants. /' Austria had to relinquish her claims, but 
the affair was not concluded until May 13th, 1779, when 
Frederick returned to Berlin, happy that he had, not been 
forced to buy glory with the lives of his subjects) 





A.D. 1780—1786. 

Frederick was now an old man, long ago disenchanted 
with military glory, fame, and even friendship. Nearly 
all his old friends had dropped round him one by one, and 
he was now to lose his old enemy Maria Theresa. For 
fifteen years she had sorrowed for her husband, with a 
grief, the loneliness of which can perhaps only be under- 
stood by women whose station is exalted above the consola- 
tions of ordinary human life. Like one whose sorrows have 
been shared by every inhabitant of these isles, she con- 
tinued to wear widow's weeds. The 18th of every month 
was spent by her in solitary prayer. On the 18th of 
August she always descended to the vaults where the body 
of Kaizer Frantz lay, and sat in meditation beside his 
coffin ; faithful beyond death, though in her case the man 
whom she mourned had been a burden to her rather than 
a guide and counseller. In November, 1780, she caught 


Wth Nov. 1780-23rd July 1785. 

a chill which fell upon her lungs and she sank quickly. 
When the hour of death approached she refused to sleep, 
saying, " For fifteen years 1 have been making ready for 
death. I must meet him awake.'* She died on the 29th 
of November, ITSg? 

Her son Joseph soon gave loose to his ambitious schemes. 
He was possessed of very considerable talent, resolution, 
and energy. His designs for reform and aggrandisement 
of his country were magnificent, only, as Frederick said of 
him, he had the fault of generally taking the second step 
without having taken the first. He was quite as arbitrary 
as the Prussian king, swept away routine in every direction, 
and was even known to set peccant high officials in the 
pillory, or to make them sweep the streets in Vienna. 
Absolute monarchy had its freaks in every country, little 
dreaming of the revolution which was so near at hand. 
(Joseph revived the designs upon Bavaria and intrigued 
Against Frederick with the Czarina. But his conduct 
aroused the terror of the other German states, and Frederick 
succeeded in forming the Fiirstenbund, or league of princes, 
to resist the encroachments of Austria and place Prussia 
in the position of guardian to German liberties/^ If this had 
happened a few years earlier, it is probable that the 
transfer of the kaisership from the Austrian to the 
Prussian house might have been anticipated by a century. 
But the FUrstenbund was only founded definitely on the 
23rd of July, 1785, when Frederick was rapidly failing in 
strength and had but another year to live. 

During the autumn manoeuvres in Silesia the year before, 
Frederick had been greatly disappointed at the want of 
tactical knowledge displayed by some of the generals, 
who had committed exactly the same faults that we see 
at autumn manoeuvres now. In a letter to General von 




Tauentzien, the same who had defended Breslau so well 
against Loudon and who was now Inspector- General of 
Silesia, the king spoke very sharply, "Were I to make 
shoemakers or tailors into generals the regiments could 
not be worse." One regiment, he said, was not fit to be 
the poorest militia battalion ; in another, the men were 
so spoiled by smuggling that they had no resemblance to 
soldiers ; whilst a third was like a heap of undrilled boors. 
As for tactics, " Schwartz, at Neisse, made the unpardon- 
able mistake of not sufficiently occupying the height on the 
left wing." One can imagine him thinking of Hochkirch 
and the Stromberg. *' Had it been serious the battle had 
been lost. At Breslau, Erlach, instead of covering the 
army by seizing the heights, marched off with his division 
straight as a row of cabbages into that defile, whereby, had it 
been real war, the enemy's cavalry would have cut down our 
infantry and the fight been lost. It is not my purpose to lose 
battles by the base conduct of my generals ; wherefore I 
hereby appoint that you next year, if I be alive, assemble the 
army between Breslau and Ohlau, and for four days before 
I arrive in your camp carefully manoeuvre with the ignorant 
generals and teach them what their duty is. Regiment 
von Arnim and garrison-regiment von Kanitz are to act as 
enemy ; and whoever does not then fulfil his duty shall be 
brought before a court-martial ; for I should think it shame 
of any country to keep such people who trouble themselves 
so little about their business. Erlach will remain four 
weeks longer in arrest. You are to make known this my 
present declared will to your whole inspection." This 
specimen of Frederick's dealing with inefficient officers may 
serve to show how terribly in earnest he was, and, to some 
extent also, why the Prussian army was then, and has since 
been, so tremendous a weapon in the hand of those who 


20th Aug. 1785-1786. 

have known how to use it. Next year, 1785, he again 
appeared in Silesia. The manoeuvres began on Saturday, 
August the 20th, and lasted till Thursday the 25th. Many 
foreign officers were present, among others Lafayette, 
Lord Cornwallis, and the Duke of York. On the Wednesday 
rain fell in torrents, yet so intent was the king upon his 
business that he remained on horseback from the be- 
ginning, at five o'clock in the morning, till the end of the 
manoeuvres after ten o'clock, riding about on horseback, as 
the present Emperor of Germany does, and watching every- 
thing with a keen eye. He did not even put on his cloak, 
and was so thoroughly wet through, that, when he returned 
to head-quarters and changed his clothes, the water is said 
to have poured out of his long boots as if they were a pair 
of pails. The chill which he caught settled on his body, 
wearied with war, and he was now seventy-three years old, 
too aged to shake it off. Still he completed his Silesian 
inspections, returned to Berlin for an artillery review on 
September the 10th, and made no complaint of his health. 
On the night of the 18th he was seized with a fit of suffo- 
cation, and from that time failed rapidly. In January, 
1786, symptoms of asthma and dropsy appeared, and he 
w^as unable to sleep, except in an arm-chair, for fear of 
suffocation. Still he lingered on, always as attentive to 
business as he had ever been. In the summer he was seen 
on horseback again, but only for very short exercise. His 
longest ride was two miles. Erysipelas came in addition to 
the asthma and dropsy. He could hardly ever sleep, and 
said one morning to some one who came in, " If you 
happened to want a night-watcher I should suit you well." 
Having for some years past begun work with the clerks 
about six or seven o'clock in the morning, he now ordered 
them to come at four A.M., saying, "My situation forces 

s 2 


14th July-lOth Aug. 1785. 

me to give them this trouble, which they will not have to 
suffer long. My life is on the decline, the time which I 
still have I must employ, it belongs not to me but to the 
state." His last letter was written to his sister, the 
Duchess Dowager of Brunswick, on the 10th of August. 
In it he says, " The old must give place to the young, 
that each generation may find room clear for it ; and life, if 
we examine strictly what its course is, consists in seeing 
one's fellow-creatures die and be born." Still his attention 
to business was unwearied. His last minute was to De 
Launay, head of the excise. "Your account of receipts 
and expenditures came to hand yesterday, the 13th, but is 
much too slight. I require one in more detail" And he 
explained shortly and clearly what details he required. 

Next morning, Tuesday, August the 15th, the king did 
not wake till eleven o'clock. On arousing he seemed at first 
confused, but called in his generals and secretaries and did 
busioess with them, giving minute directions with regard 
to a review at Potsdam next day, and, among other things, 
dictated to his clerks an instruction for an ambassador just 
leaving, ** four quarto pages, which," says Hertzberg, 
" would have done honour to the most experienced minister." 

On Wednesday morning, August the 16th, 1786, the gene- 
rals and secretaries came as usual for business, but came 
in vain. All through the early hours the king lay in ster- 
torous slumber, unconscious save at fleeting moments. In 
one of these he tried to give to the commandant the usual 
parole, but found he could not speak. An expression of 
sorrow passed over his face. He turned his head and sank 
back into the corner of his chair. Towards evening the 
king fell into a soft sleep, but soon awoke complaining of 
cold. It was the chill of death. When the clock struck 
eleven he asked, *' What o'clock % " They answered, 


16th Aug. 1786. 

*' Eleven." He murmured, "I will rise at four.'* About 
midnight he noticed that one of his dogs, which sat on a 
stool near him, was shivering with cold. " Throw a quilt 
over it," said he j and these were his last conscious words, 
Striitski, one of his three faithful valets, took the king on 
his knee to save him from doubling up in the corner of his 
chair. For two hours Frederick sat thus, with his right 
arm around Striitski' s neck, Striitski kneeling on his right 
knee with his left arm supporting the king's back and 
shoulders. In this position, at twenty minutes past two, 
the sufferer drew his last breath. Frederick the Great 
was no more. No beloved woman was there to soothe his 
last moments, no children to receive his last blessing, [^e 
died, as he had lived for many years, a dutiful worker to 
the last, but in spirit absolutely alone?^; Across the dark 
river Maria Theresa thought she saw awaiting her the 
spirit of a husband with outstretched arms. Frederick 
had no such vision. To him death meant total oblivion. 

A century has passed since the death of Frederick, and 
the world has not yet agreed what his character was as a 
king, a soldier, or a man. JLt was natural that during his 
life he should have many bitter enemies and a few fervent 
friends ; for he was possessed of an absolute will and the 
power to crush those who opposed him. But it is remark- 
able that his name should continue to be idolised by one 
portion of mankind and detested by another. English 
opinion seems to have generally mixed the life of Frederick 
the Great with that of his father, and has attributed to 
the son qualities and eccentricities which he did not possess. 
There is the less need for this because Frederick displayed 
startling characteristics of his own. Carlyle, in a book 
the genius of which becomes more striking as it grows 
more familiar, has made a grand defence of his favourite 



hero, obscuring his defects and pointing triumphantly to 
his shining virtues. The only result has been that Carlyle 
has been considered as eccentric as Frederick. For all that, 
French writers have largely accepted the facts and the 
deductions of the English philosopher and wit, whose 
history at least approaches nearer to accuracy than that of 
Voltaire. Quite lately, the Due de Broglie has taken upon 
himself the office of devil's advocate in opposition to the 
canonisation proposed by Carlyle ; but his book,^ more 
forensic than judicial, must impress the attentive reader 
with the conviction that all the royal houses and diplo- 
matists of Europe are put out of court by their own 
misdeeds when they pose as critics of Frederick, 
f When Frederick came to the throne, France was dis- 
tinctly the leading power of Europe. Her diplomatic 
subtlety and her arms had prevailed to put her in the first 
place of the first rank. Her comparative refinement, the 
brillancy of her court, which attracted all the wit and 
wisdom of Europe, enabled her to claim for herself the 
position of leader in civilisation. The literature, the 
manners, and even the persons of other nations and other 
courts were treated with ridicule and made the butt for 
every shaft of French wit. No object had seemed more 
laughable to the French nation than the court of what 
was considered that little upstart power — Prussia, under 
Frederick William. As for the political position of France 
it is enough to remember that the designs of Belle-Isle 
were considered possible. So far as Prussia was concerned, 
the intention evidently was to use her for the moment and 
then throw her away like an old glove. France had been 
paid heavily, by Alsace and Lorraine, for a formal treaty, 

1 Frederic deux et Marie TherSse d'apres des documents nouveaux, 
1740—1742. Paris, 1883. 


in which she bound herself not only to agree to the Prag- 
matic sanction, but to defend it by force of arms if neces- 
sary. When the time came, France first shuffled and then 
declared against the claims of Maria Theresa A Belle-Isle's 
schemes were to make his country, not the arbitress only, 
but the tyrant of Europe in politics, in arts, and in arms. 

Then arose upon the horizon a new planet, with the 
brightness of a sun and the strangeness of a comet. It 
came from the dark regions of the north and flamed sud- 
denly in the political sky, attracting all Europe by its 
lurid brilliancy. The wit, the diplomatic wiles, and the 
arms of France paled before it. Not only did Paris, hitherto 
the home of all that was bright and clever, now seem dull 
in comparison, but even the first Frenchmen of the day 
flew to Berlin to worship the rising sun. The arbitress of 
Europe became a weeping Niobe ; her sons slain by the 
shafts of the new Apollo, or seduced by his attractions. 
It is impossible to conceive a blow more bitter to the 
vanity of a nation, nor can there be any wonder that 
France was and remains the bitterest enemy of that 
Germany by which she was so completely eclipsed. Yet 
/^t'rance has no right to complain of Frederick, because he 
only treated her as ^e would have treated him but for his 

surpassing ability, y In turning to Austria, it is but simple 
justice to separate between the crown, with its claims, and 
the noble woman who was to wear it. For centuries Austria 
had been strong, self-willed, and oppressive. Young Prussia 
had not been allowed room to grow and expand. Prussia 
was the young and weak ; Austria, the old and strong, 
held towards Prussia, upon the soil of central Europe, 
much the samQ position as Spain occupied towards England 
on the ocean. The opportunity came both to Prussia and\ 
to England when Austria and Spain were growing weak. ] 



It was an accident of history that the noble Maria Theresa 
was the one to suffer for the accumulated misdeeds of the 
Austrian dynasty. Frederick determined to close the 
account by acquiring Silesia ; and if in that respect his 
conduct was wrong, when judged from the standpoint of 
modern morality, it was at least inapcor dance with the 
ideas and the habits of his time, f Compared with the 
actions of France, Frederick's political sin appears mild 
by contrast, j 

•Then as to the means which were used. It is abundantly 
evident that all the kings and all the ministers were 
straining every nerve to cheat each other. Even the Due 
de Broglie admits that it was an " encounter of wits," in 
which Frederick gained the victory. He was not in the 
least proud of it, neither was he ashamed. With capacity 
for far higher things, he seems to have regarded himself 
as a civilised man among savages, obliged to save his life 
by answering lies with lies. In the midst of the political 
and military embroglio during the early Silesian wars, 
Frederick wrote thus to Pode^ils : " We are dealing on 
the one side with the most headstrong people in Europe 
[the AustriansVand on the other with the most ambitious 
[the French], (^o go on playing the part of an honest man 
with rogues is a perilous thing ; to be cunning wiish deceivers 
is a desperate game and its success equivocal. What then 
is to be done ? War and negotiation % That is just what 
your humble servant and his ministers are doing^ If there 
is anything to be gained by being honest, we will be so. If 
it is necessary to dupe, let us be rogues." Here we have 
the clearest possible profession of what may be called 
political immorality, quite text enough for a long sermon 
on the wickedness of Frederick. But those who wish to' 
see clearly the character of this remarkable man will 


1786. A .i 

observe that /in this and other cynical speeches, he onjy I 
professed what others practised without professing. J (^e ^ ' 
did not pay to virtue that homage of vice — hypocrisy. 
Others vprofessing to be true and noble acted ignobly and 
vilely. ^Frederick's actions were no better, but he did not 
pretend that they were. It is not often that a man at 
thirty years of age refuses himself even the indulgence of 
illusions as to his own conduct. Frederick was a great 
worker, and continually kept before himself the idea that 
he was the shepherd of his people. The marvellous ad- 
ministrative faculty and the fertility of resource, which ' 
enabled him with a mere handful of people at his back to 
bring, year after year, fresh armies into the field, is almost 
unequalled in history; but the king would rather have 
rested his fame on the talents which produced the renovation 
of Prussia. Hard-handed and arbitrary as he was some- 
times, his people loved him, and perhaps a weaker hand 
could not have guided the vessel of state into safety. 

As a soldier, Frederick certainly deserves the credit of 
having restored a brilliant style of campaigning which had 
fallen into abeyance for ages. His strategy was sometimes 
at fault, but his critics have not sufficiently borne in mind 
the fact that he was hampered by political considerations, i 

(Hardly a winter passed during the Seven Years' "War I 
without finding him or his friends negotiating for peace.) ^ 
The conception of his campaigns was not equal to that of ' 
Napoleon, nor is there much in his general strategy to 
commend itself to students of war. His tactics on the 
field of battle were for the most part superb. Having 
made his army superior in quality, he never stayed to count 

t numbers but attacked boldly and skilfully, thus poizing for 
himself the mighty power of The Initiative. When he 
was absent from any part of his dominions the enemy 




gained some advantage there. He appeared and fought — 
resistance collapsed before him. Yet his actions as a 
general were frequently marred by a passionate self-will, 
which more than once lost him a battle. He was not 
perfect as a soldier any more than as a king or as a man. 
Yet his figure will always occupy one of the most dis- 
tinguished places in the military Pantheon. He possessed 
in a high degree the great art of obtaining complete com- 
mand over the hearts and the minds of his soldiers. 
He was a very strict disciplinarian but perfectly familar 
with his men, who bandied rough jokes with him 
when he was pleased and wept when he was angry with 
them. They would rather die with him than live with 
other generals, and the affection which he first created for 
the royal house has descended to our own times. This 
mastery over the minds and affections of soldiers is a 
quality which, almost of necessity, carries success with it, 
for it can never be possessed by a weak or foolish man. 
No campaigns will be won by an army unless it has con- 
fidence in itself and its commander. Frederick possessed 
in a large degree the power of inspiring that confidence. 

The most remarkable feature in our knowledge of this great 
king, and perhaps that which most causes men to misunder- 
stand him, is the astounding candour with which he lays 
open his own character for inspection. In his writings we 
read the whole man with his faults and his virtues clearly 
exposed to view. Nothing is so uncommon, and this is 
why the character of Frederick will perhaps never be fully 




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